~ Montalcino Street: Pasta e Fagioli appears on many Trattoria menus throughout Tuscany ~

Pasta e Fagioli; an authentic Tuscan classic and about as simple to make as a recipe can be.   Pasta & Beans is a staple throughout Italy,  but at a tiny Trattoria in Panzano,  I had a great version that was enhanced with a little cubed pancetta and kissed with some heat from pepperoncini.  It was an amazing combination of flavors and textures.  I’ve replicated it fairly well in today’s recipe. 
 
Pasta e Fagioli
 
500 grams Rigatoni
16 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
3 cans beans (two pink, one white)
6 oz. diced pancetta
8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
 
This dish can go from stovetop to table in as little as 30 minutes, so it’s imperative to use the best canned tomatoes you can find.  If you want to use fresh tomatoes, make sure they are perfectly ripe. 
 
Start by sauteing the garlic in some extra virgin olive oil.  Once fragrant, add the pancetta and allow the meat to render some of its fat and obtain some texture.   While that is working,  pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them gently with your bare hands.  You want to crush them well,  but it’s ok if there are odd size pieces because it adds to the rusticity of the dish.  Once done,  pour the tomatoes into the pan.

~  The completed “condimento” simmering on the cooktop – you can see the amount of pepperoncini that I added ~

Allow the tomatoes to simmer for 10-15 minutes over medium heat.  While that is happening, rinse the beans in a colander and drain well.  After the tomatoes have been cooking for 15 minutes or so, add the beans, stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.   Add the crushed red pepper,  lower the flame to low,  and allow to simmer another 10 minutes.   Toss with your cooked pasta, add the basil and serve immediately. 



~ The plated dish.  You can see the consistency of the sauce.  It should not be watery.  Reserve 1/4 cup of your pasta cooking water if you need to adjust the consistency of the sauce ~
It’s that easy and the best part – you can pair this with almost any red wine.  We tried this with Chianti Classico,  Brunello, Barolo and Barbera and all worked well with the meaty aspect of the beans, the acidity from the tomato and the smokiness from the pancetta. 

Salute!

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