Monday, July 18, 2011

July 14: White Beans, Pancetta and Pasta

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 pound pancetta, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 carrots, to be chopped
1 medium yellow onion, to be chopped
2 celery ribs with greens, to be chopped
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chopped fresh dandelion greens (1 small bunch)
1 head of escarole, chopped
2 15-ounce can small white beans or cannellini, drained
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, San Marzano variety if available
6 cups penne pasta
   Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese, to pass at the table

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and the pancetta.

Cook the pancetta for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and herb sprigs.

Add the vegetables as you chop: carrots, onions, and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the carrots begin to soften, 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any good bits. Wilt in the greens and escarole in bunches.

Add the beans, tomatoes, and stock and place a lid on the pot, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until cooked al dente.

Serve the very thick soup in shallow bowls with lots of cheese.


My daughters have been at their grandma's house for 4 days, and they came home today. I really missed them, probably because I haven't been away from them for about 8 months. Anyway, I made this meal for us and my sister-in-law and her husband. It made a lot! It was supposed to be 4 servings, but everyone had 1 or 2 bowlfuls and there was still so much left over! So I changed it to 6 servings. I changed the recipe to call for dried herbs instead of fresh, and I changed the ingredients that were called to be chopped to say "to be chopped" instead of already chopped. I did that because RR says to add the vegetables to the pan "as you chop" them. The flavor in the soup was very good; the pancetta adds a lot of flavor. Everyone liked it, but my brother-in-law didn't like the dandelion greens :) I thought they were fine in the soup, although I don't like them by themselves.

Rachael Ray says, "This is a mix-up of pasta e fagioli and minestra. Again, my indecisiveness is at play."

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