Friday, October 15

Pasta Fagioli

I swear the only thing keeping me from being 500 pounds is my dog.  Since getting her a year ago this week, I've grown to love our (twice) daily walks together.  Every morning at 6:30, she jumps on the bed (if she's not snuggled between Copeland and I) and literally taps me with her paw ("wake up, lazy ass"), being gentler on some mornings, like when we've been up late with friends.  Oh wait, that's me wishing she were a little kinder on those mornings.

I can already smell the coffee brewing, and as I shuffle to the kitchen, Ava begins her preparation for her morning exercise.  A little "downward facing dog" really helps to get the blood flowing I'm told.  Despite my moaning and groaning, this is my favorite part of the day.  With her head cocked to one side, she waits patiently as I get ready...that is, until she sees the chapstick go on, which of course indicates that shoes come next, then leash...Wahoo!!  After her full-body-wiggle into her collar and leash, we're off!

"They" say that nature hikes makes you smarter, by the way.  Apparently, it improves memory, or something to that effect.  I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I will say, I'm happier because of them.  I know I'll make an excellent old lady one day because nothing warms my heart more than these peaceful moments of reflection.

My mind usually wanders to food: "What should I make for breakfast?" (Hmm...pumpkin-spiced oatmeal with dried cranberries and pecans, drizzled with maple syrup.  Yes please!), or "Is it wrong to make myself a pumpkin pie?"  What I love most about my morning walks is that I usually get a moment of clarity, albeit brief.  Since the turn of the seasons, I've been struggling with the fall and winter recipes in my book.  Don't ask me how I haven't been inspired with such a variety of yummy food available.  I don't get the whole "block" thing, but I've had it for weeks.  Not ideal when you're trying to write a book.

So, in this moment of clarity, it becomes apparent that I need to try something:  Gram's pasta fagioli (fa-ZOOL - as it's known in my house) would be SO yummy with butternut squash as the base instead of tomatoes.  Substitute the basil with sage, sprinkle with pancetta, and bingo!  Inspiration is back at my door, and one can only hope she'll stay for a while.

The original recipe follows below, with my changes in parenthesis, which I  must say, is an unexpected delight!  I loved the warmth and spice of the butternut squash with the creamy white beans.  And the smoky pancetta kicks it up a notch.  Yum!  If you're not feeling adventurous, the OG Pasta Fagioli is warm and hearty!  Perfect before an evening stroll.

Happy Friday!

Pasta Fagioli

3 cans of cannellini beans
1 pound elbow or shell pasta (I use brown rice or whole wheat)
8 cups organic chicken stock
1 jar of tomato sauce (or 2 cups pureed butternut squash)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 large cloves garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup fresh basil (or sage), finely chopped
1/8 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Sea salt
*(optional) 4 ounces cubed Pancetta


Puree 2 cans of beans in blender or food processor.  While running, add about 1 tablespoon olive oil to create a smooth consistency.  Drain the third can of beans in colander.  Set aside.

Pour about 3 seconds worth of olive oil (or 2 tablespoons) into large pot.  Turn heat to a medium setting and when oil is hot, add cubed pancetta, cooking until slightly browned.  Add chopped onions and garlic and saute until translucent.  Stir in chicken stock and turn up heat.  Add all beans, butternut squash (or tomato sauce), oregano and fresh herbs.  Salt to taste.  Whisk gently for several minutes to create a smooth and creamy consistency.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes to bring flavors together.

In a separate pot, bring salted water to a boil; add pasta and cook al dente (usually 8-9 minutes for brown rice/whole wheat pasta).  Drain, and add to simmering soup.

Remove from heat and serve with lots of fresh parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of  fresh parsley.

1 comment:

  1. Darn those blocks! And why, oh why, do they occur at the most inconvenient of times?!

    Happy to hear that some inspiration has come back and I hope it stays the duration of your book-writing journey...

    I love the pic of where Ava gets to roam. Lucky dog!