Pasta e fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

This is a traditional Italian peasant recipe.

Surprise! There is no recipe!

Soak one pound of white beans (white kidney _ cannoli? _ navy, pea beans all OK. Even pinto in a pinch) overnight in water to cover plus 1 inch


Cover one pound of white beans with water to cover plus one inch, bring to the boil & boil for one minute then remove from heat, cover & soak one hour.

Drain soaking water, rinse & pick out rocks & yucky beans. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, add 1 Tablespoon (olive) oil, a clove of garlic & simmer until squashy __ 2 hours or so. Don't add salt or tomato sauce until the beans are tender.


Open 2_3 one pound cans of plain white beans & drain well.

Once the beans are tender, add tomato sauce to taste & simmer until it's convenient to add the pasta. I would use about a quart of homemade tomato sauce for this amount of beans, but commercial sauce is more concentrated, so adjust for the amount you need. Use Italian style with garlic & basil and add extra basil, garlic, etc. to taste. The traditional version is also spiked with hot pepper.

For the pasta, about a pound of elbows or shells or other short fat macaroni will make a solid mixture with this amount of beans, though some people make it more like a soup, so maybe then half a pound of pasta? If you serve the pasta & beans separately, people can put the beans on like a sauce, but then the pasta doesn't get all mushy in with the bean liquid. Decisions, decisions. Feel free to adjust sauciness & seasoning to make it the way you like, since this is more a general idea than a formula. This is fat free, of course, except for the bit of oil in the beginning. The oil helps keep the beans from boiling over & somehow seems to help them get more tender & creamy, so don't omit it. More olive oil would be tastier, no doubt.

This information was placed on the web by Thomas J. Sienkewicz. If you have any questions about this document, you may contact him at