Pasta e Fagioli

I think it’s probably very likely that for many Midwesterners like myself, their first exposure to pasta e fagioli was at The Olive Garden. Unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks can’t be beat! Even if your culinary tastes are somewhat more refined these days, this is a hearty, healthy (and cheap) soup that’s great with crusty bread or toast!


  • 100 g bacon lardons (thick cut bacon cut into strips)
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and medium diced
  • 400 g can of tomato sauce
  • 150 g chopped frozen spinach
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 500 ml chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1200 ml water
  • 400 g cannellini or Santa Pau beans
  • 1 cup small pasta
  • secret ingredient: parmesan rind (optional – when I finish a wedge of parmesan cheese I chuck it in a ziploc in the freezer)



Brown the bacon in a large pot (I use a 5.5 liter pot) over medium high heat. When the bacon is browned, swirl in the olive oil, reduce the heat to medium and sauté the onions until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they start to become soft, about 10 min.

Add the red pepper flakes, herbs, tomato sauce, spinach, broth and water. Chuck that parmesan rind in if you have it! Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 min. Add the beans and allow to gently simmer for 10 more minutes. Adjust for salt and pepper. Finally, add the pasta and simmer until al dente.

Serve with bread and grated parmesan.


Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta PuttanescaI’m pretty sure everyone knows what puttanesca means so I won’t go into it. Puttanesca sauce is a spicy, piquant, garlicky, anchovy-imbued delight. Mmm, anchovies. Good thing I’m married and it doesn’t matter if my garlic/anchovy breath offends Joel. He likes it.

I’ve made this a few times, and based on experience I recommend using a long pasta, like spaghetti, spaghettoni or linguine. Use a thicker pasta, not capellini (angel hair), to keep the hot sauce from continuing to cook the pasta – you don’t want to lose that nice al dente bite.







  • 1 small onion, finely choppedPuttanesca ingredients
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
  • 2 TB capers
  • 1 tin (50 g) anchovies packed in olive oil, drained
  • 2 handfuls (about 200 g) black olives (preferrably oil-packed)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp hot chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley or 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large tin (800 g) whole peeled tomatoes, drained (reserve half the liquid) and coarsely chopped
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 400 g pasta, cooked al dente


Saute Heat a large saucepan/pot over medium heat and add oil, onion, garlic, anchovies, and capers. Saute mixture until anchovies melt into the oil and onions and garlic are tender. Add herbs, hot pepper flakes, olives, tomatoes, tomato paste and the reserved liquid. Bring sauce to a bubble, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with fresh basil and grated Parmesan.

Servings: Four (sauce + 1/4 of the cooked pasta). 529 calories

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver for Food Network.

Pasta Falsa Carbonara

Today is our one-year anniversary and I’ve decided to make one of our favorite dishes, falsa carbonara. Why is it false? Because there’s no raw egg that you stir in the hot pasta to par-cook it. There’s nothing I hate more than runny egg yolk. I know that makes me a bit of a weirdo, but there you go. You can make this dish anytime you want to impress people or have a big favor to ask. The following recipe is only for two people but it can easily be doubled.


  • 100 grams bacon in tacos (diced)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 150 grams sliced mushrooms
  • 80 grams frozen peas
  • 250 ml (one small bottle) “nata para cocinar” which I believe is half-and-half in the US or single cream in the UK
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper or paprika
  • 100 grams linguine or fettuccine


In a large, deep frying pan brown the bacon. When it’s browned, add the sliced mushrooms, onions and garlic and sauté over medium heat. Meanwhile, start water to boil for the pasta and cook the pasta until al dente. When the mushrooms and onions are soft add the frozen peas and stir. Let them cook for a couple of minutes then add the cream and add salt/pepper/paprika to taste, stirring occasionally. By this time the pasta should be done cooking so drain it and set it aside. Do NOT rinse freshly cooked pasta, that is an insult to pasta. The cream sauce should be thickening by now, grate about a tablespoon of Parmesan over it and stir in.  Check to make sure the peas are cooked through. If they are you’re ready to go. Divide the pasta in two plates and divide the cream sauce over the pasta. Grate a bit more Parmesan over each and serve. With wine.

Servings: Two. 740 calories.

Tortellini Salad

A big thanks to my mother who recommended I call this recipe Tortellini Salad rather than “Pasta & Salad,” which what we usually refer to it as. Not too inventive calling it by its component parts, but whatever. The henceforth to be called Tortellini Salad is one of our standard midweek dinners as it takes less than 15 minutes to make, is relatively healthy and darned tasty.


  • Fresh tortellini pasta – we use Giovanni Rana brand, our preferred kind is Gorgonzola & Walnuts but this recipe also goes well with the Pear & Cheese flavor.
  • A bag of salad – we prefer straight up arugula for its peppery kick, but any mix of baby greens will do.
  • Two medium sized tomatoes, chopped coarsely (again, don’t use Roma tomatoes for eating raw,  they are for cooking!) or approx 6 cherry tomatoes per person.
  • Olive oil – best quality, cold pressed.
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt (Maldon if you’ve got it) and pepper


Cook the pasta according to instructions (the kind we use takes a whopping one minute) and drain. In two plates divide the salad mix and tomatoes, then divide the hot pasta over the top. The hot/cold works nicely! Dress salad with a bit of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, to taste. That’s it, time to eat!

Servings: Two. 540 calories per serving.