Jane’s Pasta Fazool
This is Jane.
For the first time, Judilicious & Nutritious traveled across the pond to document a People Who Cook episode. Jane recently moved to Dublin but grew up in sunny California. Despite being American, she also has Italian roots due to which she got to taste many traditional Italian dishes. Such meals were cooked by her Italian nona who in turn learned the tricks and skill from Jane’s great-grandmother. To explain her background a little further, Jane tells me that many Italian families migrated to the United States during world war I in search of a new life. Because cultural values are strongly engrained in a true Italian’s heart, they kept whatever traditions they could. And have a little guess what makes up a big chunk of Italian tradition and culture? That’s right, my fellow foodies, we’re talking about food!
In Dublin, Jane keeps Italian cuisine alive with excitement, passion and not to forget a little bit of Southern European temperament. She loves hosting and thus often invites friends over to her place to spend a cosy night at her dinner table featuring lit candles, delicious home-cooked food, a bottle of wine and most likely a batch of freshly baked cookies. In fact, Jane reminds me of my own stress-coping-mechanism because she too gets rid of steam by whisking up batter and popping a batch of baked goodies into the oven. In her case, the relief comes in the form of chocolate chip cookies (which she adds ground coffee to, yum!), snickerdoodles as well as double chocolate chunks. Speaking of cookies, I brought her a batch of carrot cake cookies that I baked that very morning. Could she appreciate them? Of course she could, she’s my fellow cookie lover!
Jane’s friend Abby also joined our food talk and told me that one time, Jane invited her over for tea because she had baked cookies for the homeless and had a few to spare. Another special guest today is my beautiful sister Lisa who cheekily took a seat on Jane’s couch to comfortably sip her drink, nibble some bread and dip it into the delicious hummus-pesto-and-feta platter that Jane served as a starter. Isn’t she the perfect host? My taste buds scream a big fat YES!
Before moving to Dublin, Jane was living in San Francisco where her cookie production followed more regular intervals – you can imagine what 3 hours worth of commuting through busy traffic do to a baker’s candied soul: stress it so much that the only sensible thing is to melt some goddamn butter! Jane loves baking so much that she can get competitive: for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, she and two of her cookie-monster friends organized a bake-off with the following starring characters: apple pie, almond tart and a banana cream pie which was Jane’s masterpiece(ce) and won the competition – about which I am not at all surprised, have a look below.
Thanks to Jane’s upbringing in the US, she grew up celebrating Thanksgiving which still resembles an important tradition to this day. Coincidentally, Thanksgiving happened only a couple of days ago and Jane was hosting a massive dinner in Dublin together with her good friend and fellow food-enthusiast Alex. These two came up with a lush Thanksgiving menu that I don’t even want to think about because I wasn’t able to join the feast. Are you ready? (I am not.)
Jane’s & Alex’ Thanksgiving Menu
(you will want to join next time, mark my words!)
roasted turkey & homemade gravy
sweet potato mash
grandma’s cornbread & sausage stuffing
sourdough-based stuffing with celery & cranberries
brussel sprouts with lemon vinaigrette
Are you kidding me, Jane and Alex??
Now tell me you don’t want to be a part this and look at me with a straight face! I’m in a Christmassy, autumny, cosy mood since the first leafs started to fall and candle-lit dinners with pumpkin pies fit into that theme better than anything else. Jane tells me that in her Californian home, big family dinners happen all the time. While Jane’s dad has Italian as well as German roots, her mother carries Irish blood. This shows when her mom claims the kitchen and bakes pumpkin breads and lemon pound cakes. The cultural and culinary influences of such a set of parents make a lot of sense when watching Jane baking, cooking and using every inch of her small Irish kitchen.
When she was a child, her father used to make mulligatawny (a sort of curried chicken and rice soup) and naturally earned his children’s empathy with homemade spaghetti and meatballs. Another dish he used to make is called pasta fazool (pasta e fagioli), which is an Italian pasta-bean-tomato dish that still sticks with Jane until this day: hence, she chose to cook it for People Who Cook. It is a very comforting and hearty dish, perfect for the colder seasons and simply delicious (as you might know, Ireland is almost always windy so come here already, pasta fazool!).
Before starting to cook, she sipped some coffee to wake herself up because she let the broth simmer for quite some time. Let’s allow her this moment of peace and then get cooking, why don’t we?
Here we go, get ready for some sauce, some pasta and lots and lots of Parmigiano!
Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli)
Prep Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 min
For this recipe you will need:
1 ½ cups cannellini (white kidney) beans, soaked overnight
1 Parmesan rind, plus shaved parmesan for serving
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 cloves, chopped
1 sprig rosemary
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp olive oil
900g spicy Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
¾ cup dry white wine
- Bring the beans, Parmesan rind, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and 1.8L of water
to a boil in a medium pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, adding more water as needed, until beans
are tender, about 1½ hours. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat, strain the broth, discard
the rind and herbs but keep the veggies. Let sit while you continue cooking.
- Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Brown the sausage, breaking it up into
a mince. Once browned, remove from heat, begin cooking onion and garlic in the meaty oily-grease. Stir
occasionally, until softened, then add the tomatoes, crushing with your spoon, and cook, stirring often.
Add the sausage back into the pot and cook another 12–15 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook
until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Boil your pasta water, make enough macaroni to serve your guests. Once cooked al dente, strain and add your macaroni to the bean-tomato pan. Give it a final season with salt and pepper. Serve hot and with plenty of Parmesan (Jane added the plenty to these instructions and I hope that you will follow that kind Italian advice!).
‘You can make this dish 5 zillion different ways. My dad’s version is more pasta-like. I’ve read numerous recipes that are more soup-like. For our cooking day, I strained the soupy broth and poured that on top of each bowl of the pasta. Like all Italian food, everyone’s nona made it differently, and that is one of the beautiful things about cooking, make it yours.’ – Jane
Jane Joon, thank you for having me as your inquisitive guest and for sharing not only your love for cookies but also for Italian cuisine!
I learned lots about parmesan quantities, soupy pasta and Thanksgiving menus!
I’m sure that Abby and Lisa had a delicious time as well, am I right, ladies?