Pasta e fagioli a recipe worth singing about

By Bill Milligan
For the Call

A few weeks ago, I got into a conversation with a woman in my office in which she mentioned a dish her father was going to teach one of her family members how to cook.

She had forgotten the name and wondered if I had ever heard of it.

I had never heard of it. But in my usual fashion, that didn’t keep me from commenting. And as usual, I said the first thing that came to mind.

‘‘I’ve heard of ‘pasta fazool,’” I said. “Dean Martin mentioned it in a song, ‘That’s Amore.’’’

“That wasn’t it,” she said.

I later found out she was referring to braciole, another Italian favorite.

Since that conversation I’ve been wondering just what pasta Dean Martin was referring to, and then it hit me: Look it up on the internet.

So I did, and I soon discovered I was spelling it wrong. And I found so many recipes that I was able to make my own.

Pasta e Fagioli
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 chopped red onion
• 1 lb. Italian sausage
• 2 stalks celery, chopped
• 2 large garlic cloves, diced
• ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
• 24 oz. can crushed tomatoes
• 3 cups chicken stock
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 1 lb. ditalini
• 2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans
• 4 strips of bacon, or pancetta
• 1 tbsp. fresh basil
• 1 tbsp. fresh oregano
• ½ tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
• Sea salt and black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, fry bacon in olive oil. When bacon starts to brown, remove it from the pan and drain it on a few paper towels.

Add the onion to the pan with the oil and bacon fat and saute for seven minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for another two minutes. You should smell the spices in the room by then.

Add the wine to the pan next. Cook over medium high heat for two minutes and then add tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to boil over high heat. Add the ditalini pasta and cook for at least 10 minutes.

Add the cannellini beans and simmer for five minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add your basil and parsley and cook for another three minutes. Serve.