© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <email@example.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA
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Recipe from: The Vegetarian Table by Julia della Croce
The origins of this dish are in the thick, rustic macaroni and bean soup made with dried beans and a ham bone or salt pork. Chick-peas are sometimes used instead of white beans. This is a delicious vegetarian variation and can be quick to make as well if the beans are already cooked. When I was growing up, my father often stopped home for lunch unexpectedly; this was inevitably what my mother cooked up for him - in the length of time it took for the pasta to boil. Canned beans can be substituted for cooked, rehydrated beans as long as they contain no sugar or other additives. There is, however, no substitute for flavorful extra-virgin olive oil, because in this dish of only four main ingredients, the oil and the onion are the primary sources of flavor. The dish can be served as a first or main course.
1 ⅓ cups (½ pound) dried cannellini or Great Northern beans, or 2 cans (16 ounces each) white beans
5 quarts water
½ pound ditalini (little thimbles)
1 ½ tablespoons salt, plus salt to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 very large or 2 medium-sized onions, sliced paper-thin
freshly milled black pepper
If using dried beans, rinse them and pick them over and then rehydrate and cook them; drain and set aside. If using canned beans, drain them and then rinse and drain well again; set aside.
In a soup kettle, bring the water to a boil. Add the pasta and the 1-tablespoons salt. Stir and continue to cook over high heat until the water returns to a boil, stirring frequently. When the pasta is half-cooked (about 6 minutes), add the drained beans to the pasta pot.
While the pasta and beans are cooking together, in a skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the rosemary and onion and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. When the pasta is al dente (tender but quite firm to the bite), drain it, and, while it is still dripping, transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Add the browned onion and toss well.
Sprinkle liberally with pepper to taste, and add more salt if desired. Serve at once.