When I was planning for Halloween, pasta fagioli was the first thing I thought of making. Which probably sounds weird to most people since it does not have any pumpkin or candy in, on, or even near it. But I always associate it with Halloween because my Mommom used to make a big batch of it as a pre-trick-or-treating meal for my cousins and brothers and I (and the assorted family friends, extended family and neighbors that came in and out of the house all night). I vividly remember shuttling bowls of it between Mommom's ladle in the kitchen and the costumed kids at the dining room table. (In case you didn't have the privilege of knowing me at the time, I was both the oldest cousin and the biggest suck up. I guess I'm still the oldest at least.)
I love pasta fagioli, probably about 50/50 for its taste and its nostalgia. And Mommom was smart, it was the perfect Halloween dinner for that many kids: cheap, hearty, easy. I didn't actually get around to making it on Halloween this year--Friday nights+kitchen+Kate=not happening--but I made it the day after. And I ate it that day, the next day, the day after that, and so on. A non-nostalgic Nic also gave it a big thumbs up. So to sum up it is delicious, hearty, cheap, and very re-heatable.
Also, by some miracle, this is the first pasta dish I'm posting. Bizarre. I think I grew up eating pasta 3 times a week at least...
Makes 8 servings
1 garlic sauce recipe
1 lb. ground beef (can be a little more or less)
1/2 medium onion
3 15.5 oz. cans kidney beans, drained**
1/2 lb. ditalini pasta or other very small tube (can be a little more or less as well)
-Prepare the garlic sauce. Allow it to simmer for about 30-45 minutes so it gets flavorful. Make it on the watery side so the pasta fagioli will be soupy. The noodles will absorb some of the water. (It should be soupier than the picture. It had been refrigerated at that point so when I heated it up I added a little water.)
-Cook pasta in boiling water for 5 minutes. It will be very al dente/not what you would normally consider cooked. Drain.
-Meanwhile, in a frying pan cook ground beef with onion over medium heat until done.
-Add cooked meat and onion mixture to the garlic sauce. Mix in the drained kidney beans and the pasta. Cook until nice and hot
*Pronounced fah-shool, at least in my family. And yes, I had to look up the spelling. It literally means pasta and beans. Thanks for the translation Mom.
**If you look closely at my picture you may notice a few chick peas in there. I only had two cans of kidney beans in the pantry so I had to use one can of Trader Joe's marinated bean salad, which is kidney beans, chick peas, and some other bean that looks like a kidney bean. Not traditional, but no biggie.