Valentine’s Day dinner at a 5-star Italian restaurant, splitting a bottle of wine: can you think of anything more romantic? How about sharing this experience with your loved one from the comfort of your own home? Valentine’s Day is a special day, so take the stress out of what should be a special and enjoyable evening with your sweetheart with a heartfelt, home-cooked Italian meal that is sure to impress, an easy yet flavorful recipe that is made with heart, love and hand. Fatto con cuore e mano!
Our recipe developer Rachel has recreated a classic Italian crowd-pleaser that is equal parts romantic, elegant, rustic, simple and amazingly delicious! Enter, Pasta é Fagioli.
Sometimes called Pasta Fazool (think Dean Martin famously crooning “When the stars make you drool, just like pasta fazool, that’s amoré…), Pasta é Fagioli translates to simply “pasta and beans.” A fancy and complicated name, sure, but a dish that couldn’t be simpler.
Starting with a traditional base, this dish adds some earthy notes with brussels sprouts, brightness with lemon zest, heat with chili flakes (Valentine’s Day always welcomes heat!) rounding out with the freshness of rosemary. Orecchiette pasta’s size and shape catches the beans to give you a perfect bite every time, but feel free to use whatever smaller sized or shelled pasta you prefer!
The pasta cooks right in the broth base rather than in a separate pot, which will thicken the sauce and give the pasta more flavor. This helps give the whole dish a rich flavor that tastes like you’ve been cooking all day, even though it only takes about an hour to put together.
Our recommendation is to serve this dish with some nice crust bread so you can soak up every little bit of sauce left in your bowl. Oh, and don’t forget the wine! What’s an Italian-style Valentine’s Day dinner without wine, after all? This dish pairs perfectly with a Chianti or a sparkling, dry white wine.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your sweetheart! Our family at Randall Beans hopes this recipe helps make your special evening at home a little more special.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
- 4 oz. diced pancetta (Boars Head is easy to find at most grocery stores)
- Parmesan cheese, plus rind
- 16 oz. dry orecchiette pasta (or other small shell pasta)
- 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 2 15.4oz. (or 14oz.) jars of Randall Beans Great Northern Beans
- 1/2 cup of sherry cooking wine or dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups of brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- red pepper flakes (optional but recommended)
- 2 bay leaves
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- One the stove heat on medium high a deep saucepan or Dutch oven 2 Tbsp olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion and cook, stirring often until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and stir constantly until aromatic, about one minute. Add crushed tomatoes and rosemary, stirring to combine. Remove from stove and let cool to room temperature.
- Transfer mixture to food processor and blend until smooth. Set sauce aside and wipe pan clean, returning it to the cooktop. Lower heat to medium.
- Spread on brussels sprouts on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste before adding lemon zest. Mix to coat evenly. Roast for 13-15 minutes, or until crispy and browned. When finished roasting, set aside.
- While the sprouts are in the oven, add cubed pancetta to warmed saucepan or Dutch oven. IMPORTANT TIP: Don’t cook the pancetta too quickly. You’ll notice some pieces are fattier than others. This is a good thing! But you don’t want chewy pork pieces in your pasta. Use the pancetta’s natural fat to crisp it by slowly rendering it down over medium heat. After about ten minutes of stirring intermittently, you should see crispy meat and the fatty pieces nearly gone. Do not drain remaining liquid.
- Add sherry or wine to pancetta, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat back up to medium high, stirring until mostly evaporated, 3-5 minutes.
- Add in chicken broth and tomato sauce from the food processor, blending well. You should have the consistency of a broth soup. Add the pasta, two bay leaves and parmesean rind. Bring broth to a boil, stirring often until pasta is el dente, 13-15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Your liquid should be reduced by half after this step.
- Once pasta is cooked through, add beans (no need to drain or rinse) and a squeeze from half the lemon. Remove bay leaves and parmesean rind. Lower heat to a simmer and cover for ten minutes, stirring often.
- Once you have a thick, saucy consistency, remove pan from heat.
- To plate, ladle pasta into wide bowls. Top with roasted brussels sprouts, freshly grated cheese, and red pepper flakes for a kick of heat (trust us, you want to). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with hot crusty bread and a salad if desired.
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