Archive for the ‘pasta’ Category

Pasta e Fagoli Soup

This soup is really good.  It is so good that BK, in fact, calls it “Crack Soup” because I can’t stop eating it.   Left to my own devices if BK is not home to give me a stern look, I will eat it until my stomach is killing me.

The funny thing is that I didn’t used to think this soup was so good.  When I was young and single and ate onions, I used to carefully spoon the bacon drippings out of the soup pot so it would be healthier.  Then BK and I got married and I figured I’d be splitting the bacon drippings with someone else, so I’d just leave them in.  Well, let me tell you: it makes *all* the difference!!  Leave the bacon drippings in, in the name of all that is good in the world!!

Many times, “soup for dinner” meals are disappointing because the soup just isn’t hearty enough to make a meal.  This one is though…the beans and pasta will fill you up.  It’s also very good as leftovers, but the pasta soaks up a ton of the broth, so I like to add more water when I’m reheating.

Visit Taste and Tell’s Saturdays with Rachael Ray for more delicious recipes!


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
⅛ pound (3 slices) pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 (4- to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact, or 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
coarse salt and pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini or great northern beans
1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 quart chicken stock
1½ cups ditalini
grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
crusty bread, for mopping


Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta or bacon.  Brown the pancetta or bacon bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic.  Season vegetables with salt and pepper.  Add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high.  Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta.  Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente.  Rosemary and thyme leaves may separate from stems as soup cooks; remove stems and bay leaves.  Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated cheese.  Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.

Slightly adapted from The Food Network, Rachael Ray.


Disappearing Zucchini Orzo

I traveled to Chicago for work the other month and had dinner with one of my dear friends, The Parakeet.   We both support the idea of buying locally grown food and she recommended the book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver.  Its the story of a family that eats only local produce and meat for an entire year — quite the challenge!

The book was great, and the chapter on zucchini cracked me up.  It describes how zucchinis are so prolific during the summer months in the author’s farming community that people are desperate to get rid of them.  The author’s family would routinely come home to find a gift bag full of zucchini anonymously left hanging from their mailbox.  And instead of being mad, they’d think, “that is a *great* idea!”

In the spirit of being over-zucchinified (yes, that is a word), they came up with the recipe below, which I have adapted slightly, to help their zucchini disappear.  It uses a ton of the vegetable, and I was nervous I would be asking myself the question “would you like some orzo with your zucchini?”  But the final product definitely does not taste over-zucchinified…its fresh and delicious.  Perfect for me, since even the one plant’s worth of zucchini I have is a lot for just one person to eat!  I even got to put the onions in it since the zucchini had already disqualified it from BK consumption!


¾ pound orzo pasta
1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic
3 large zucchini

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan or any hard yellow cheese
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Bring 6 cups water or chicken stock to a boil and add pasta.  Cook al dente.

Use a cheese grater or mandoline to shred zucchini, sauté briefly with chopped onion and garlic until lightly golden.  Add spices to zucchini mixture, stir thoroughly, and then remove mixture from heat.

Combine with cheese and cooked orzo, salt to taste, serve warm or at room temperature.

Slightly adapted from “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,” by Barbara Kingsolver.

Orzo and Tomato Pasta Salad with Feta

So, I love pasta.  I really, really, really love pasta.  I would eat it every day if BK didn’t get upset when he decides his protein intake is too low.  He tries valiantly to enforce his “pasta once a week” rule, but its hard when (a) he isn’t actually cooking the food and (b) I emphatically argue that pasta as a side dish or in a soup does not count.

Being summer, a cool pasta salad was in order.  This tomato and orzo version did the trick.  I add extra olives, but I also eat them straight out of the jar sometimes as a snack, i.e, I like them more than most.  The salad is definitely worth making a day ahead of time…the vinaigrette really melds with the cheese and pasta and it tastes even better after a day or two!


4 ounces uncooked orzo pasta
¼ cup pitted green olives, chopped
4 ounces diced feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3-4 tablespoons of your favorite vinaigrette
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook orzo until al dente and drain.  When orzo is mostly cool, transfer to a medium bowl and mix in olives, feta cheese, parsley, basil, tomato and garlic powder. Pour vinaigrette and lemon juice over pasta, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill slightly before serving.

Heavily adapted from

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