I’ll find any excuse to eat beans. I kind of put them in everything. My first experience with beans in pasta was actually one of the first recipes I learned to cook–spaghetti alla ceci (pasta with garbanzo beans). As a teenager, when my mom let me cook dinner, I’d simmer some crushed tomatoes and blend up chickpeas and add them to the sauce as a thickener. But discovering the rich hearty flavors of Pasta e Fagioli was life-changing. My version has smoky bacon, fresh sage, red pepper flakes, fire roasted tomatoes, broth, and cannelini beans for the perfect combination of salty and smoky. I love how the mini shells mop up the sauce and sometimes hug a little bean! Orecchiette would be perfect for this as well.
This recipe is incredibly simple and takes 30 minutes start to finish. And, as usual, I like to time out the pasta boiling perfectly so it coincides with when the sauce is done. So I gave you a little help in my recipe. Let’s get started on this recipe!
First, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet or a dutch oven, add the olive oil. Dice the bacon and add this to the pan. I used some nice thick, smoky bacon. Once the bacon is browned, add the onion and cook, stirring until the onion is soft and translucent. Then add the garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes, and cook for just a minute more.
At this point, add the pasta to the pot to boil. It’ll boil for about 7-8 minutes until it’s firm but cooked. Meanwhile, add the fire roasted tomatoes, cannelini beans, and broth to the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low until the pasta is cooked. Drain the pasta and add it into the sauce, letting the pasta finish cooking in the sauce for a minute or so. It should sop up all the lovely sauce. Taste for salt.
Serve immediately and sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano cheese. See the full recipe below!
- ⅔ lb medium shell pasta (11 oz)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 slices of thick sliced bacon
- 1 onion
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 15 oz cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
- kosher salt
- Grated parmigiano reggiano
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- While you wait on the water to boil, dice the bacon into ¼ inch pieces. Dice the onion, chop the sage, and mince the garlic.
- In a large, deep skillet or dutch oven add the olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Add the onion, and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the sage, garlic, and red pepper flakes and stir, cooking for one minute.
- Add the pasta to the water to boil. Add the fire roasted tomatoes, broth, beans, and a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Drain the pasta and pour directly into the sauce. Cook on low for one minute until the pasta absorbs a bit of the sauce. Taste for salt.
- Serve in pasta bowls and top with parmigiano reggiano.