I love beans. Love, love, love! I could eat beans at every meal (which ironically is suggested in the paean to legumes that every kid knows and which some in my house sing to me frequently). So, I’m sort of jaded when it comes to this recipe when I say that you will love it! Nobody has not liked it (yep, that double-negative was intentional).
I’ve finally bitten the bullet and asked my mother to cook with me for the blog. It’s not that she’s not a good cook. To the contrary, she’s an excellent cook. It’s just that it’s my mother and I wasn’t sure I wanted to boss her around in my kitchen and tell her how to cook and where to stand and how to measure … I jest to amuse myself. Those reasons were exactly what got me moving.
Sixty picture later, I’ve just given up. It’s simply not a pretty dish. You’ll need to take my word that it’s delicious. Earthy lentils, bitter (in a good way) onions, and lots of black pepper combine to make one of my all-time favorite bean dishes. It’s hearty and filling. It’s even vegan if that’s your thing. It’s a comfort dish that transports me to Aunt Myra’s kitchen and some warm happy memories. She is a terrific cook and introduced my childhood to mint in green salads (that one took me a while to get used to), Syrian meatloaf, and this wonderful lentil dish. Later in life she introduced me to jug wine but that’s a story for another time.
Beans. The Rodney Dangerfield of of the food world. They get no respect. Though poems have been written about them, they are the sort of poesy that brings unwanted parental attention upon recitation.: Beans, beans, the musical fruit …. Beans, beans, good for your heart … You can sing them both, can’t you? Beans need the PR that prunes got a few years back … dried plums, anyone? Though beans are highlighted in practically every cuisine worth mention, for most of us, they are relegated to side dish just meant to round out a meal. And here I am … relegating them to side dish. Irony. Well, no, I am not relegating anything. Pat is. How to get in good with your mother-in-law? Throw her under the bus. These are Pat’s beans. Pat Smith is my mother-in-law and she introduced me, nay, opened my eyes to the deliciousness that is these baked beans. Though the pic above has the beans as a side, these beans are my main. Fresh and hot? to die for. Cold out of the fridge for breakfast? move over coffee. Yes, these beans are that good.
The most delicious soul-warming combination of beans, pasta and tomatoes in a simple but rich Parmesan, pepper-flecked broth.
This dish is the reason that I started this blog. If I think of Nonnie in the kitchen, it generally involves her making pasta fazool and me being shooed away from the pot. “Elizabeth! Go. Out. Side!” To be sure, I know this is correctly referred to as pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) but we have never called it that and I see no reason to start now. Plus, I don’t think most of the family would know what I was talking about if it I called it Nonnie’s pasta e fagioli.