the appetizer:

Though there are many individual regional cuisines in Italy, northern and southern Italian cuisines are primarily differentiated by the cooking fat and style of pasta commonly used. Northern Italian cuisine (other than on the coast) favors butter, cream, polenta, Mascarpone, Grana Padano, and Parmigiano cheeses, risotto and fresh egg pasta. Southern Italian cuisine tends toward Mozzarella, Caciocavallo and Pecorino cheeses, olive oil and dried pasta. Southern Italian cuisine also makes greater use of the ubiquitous tomato.



Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)

16 ounces dried Cannellini beans (or white beans)
5 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
2 cloves garlic
9 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups water
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne flakes
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
Salt, pepper
8 oz. ziti, or other short, tubular pasta

Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Drain beans and rinse. Place beans in a large stew pot along with the herbs, whole garlic, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and water. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until beans are tender—about 1-1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 6 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, cayenne pepper flakes, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Add sauce to cooked beans and stir well.

Pass soup through food mill, return to stew pot, and cook over low heat until thickened slightly.

Cook ziti in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and add to soup. Cook for 15 minutes more before serving.


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This page modified January 2007

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