Pasta e Fagioli

Photo: Aboard Gyatso.
Sharon aboard s/y Gyatso in 2006.

When we headed south on the ICW in January and February 2006, we stopped-over in Oriental, North Carolina for a week to catch-up on rest, repairs and refit projects. We also visited with David’s cousins Daniel and Sharon (s/v Pelican, formerly) who live just a short, five-minute walk from the marina. They had spent a couple of years before that cruising on their lovely Bristol 41, circumnavigating the Caribbean Sea.

While David and Daniel discussed and worked on electronics and fuel tank issues, Lisa and Sharon exchanged recipes and talked about living aboard. Sharon (pictured onboard Gyatso at left) invited Lisa for a day of cooking and baking in her home kitchen — an experienced galley chef, she wanted to demonstrate her tried and true bread-making techniques. She also showed Lisa how to make Pasta e Fagioli which was served with homemade focaccia and a mixed green salad for a memorable meal ashore.

Lisa did not fully appreciate how well this traditional Italian recipe compared to the real thing until we spent the winter in Italy ourselves. She wrote Sharon an email saying, “I can honestly say that your recipe holds up to the best of what I’ve had here in Italy!” With permission, we are providing Sharon’s recipe below [our clarifications in brackets]. We recommend serving it as Sharon did with homemade focaccia, another one of her great recipes.

Combine 1 1/4 cup dried navy [or cannelini] beans with 6 cups water and soak overnight.
2/3 cup [extra virgin] olive oil
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 2-3 hours until tender. Reserve 1 1/2 cups liquid.

Sauté in [extra virgin] olive oil:
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each: oregano, basil*
salt and pepper [to taste]

2 cans diced tomatoes with liquid**
Reserved liquid from beans

Heat and add: 1/2 pound cooked pasta (shells, bowties or whatever). Combine everything in a large bowl. Sprinkle liberally with [fresh] parsley.  Serve with a generous amount of [grated] parmesan cheese. [For a quicker version, we have also used canned beans, drained, and 1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought vegetable broth instead of the reserved liquid.]

* [If using fresh basil, gently tear it into small pieces and add along with the pasta at the end.]
** [We really like Italian plum tomatoes the best.  If using fresh tomatoes, remove skins first by blanching in a pot of hot water for one minute.]

Adventures while cruising to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Black Seas in a Tayana 37 sailboat


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