You make a whole meal in that skillet, that’s what.
What’s the secret to getting all your meal components in one place? A high-sided skillet, for one, and a clever technique stolen from risotto-making that allows your starch (like rice, potatoes, or pasta) to simmer directly in the skillet with flavorful broth and aromatic vegetables.
This one-skillet version of pasta fagiole, or “pasta fazool,” as we refer to it in our house, is yet another variation on a classic Italian dish. Though the basic components of this soup-slash-stew—pasta, beans, and aromatics—remain intact from recipe to recipe, there are infinite tweaks and personal touches that have been added or subtracted from the meal over the years. Some cooks include carrots or tomatoes, while others eschew them. Some replace sage with rosemary or keep things simple with just garlic and parsley.
Though pasta fagiole is traditionally simmered for hours as dried white beans turn soft and plump, creating a creamy sauce, this version might make your grandma blush. I’m cheating by using canned cannellinis, creating a hearty and satisfying stew that cooks in less than an hour. Those of you with crushes on your pressure cooker (hey, I’m one of them!) can dirty one more pot by quick-cooking dried beans there, then adding them to the pan. Start them before you sauté the onions, and you’ll still have the meal on the table in record time.
One-Skillet Pasta Fagiole
Prep time:15 minutes
Total time:45 minutes
Makes 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white or yellow onion, minced
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
- kosher salt
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 pound (about 1 cup) ditalini
- 1 15 1/2-oz. can cannellini beans, drained
- 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- freshly ground black pepper
- finely grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the onion, celery, garlic and sage and stir with a pinch of kosher salt.
Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the onion and celery are softened but not browned. Add the carrot and cook for 8-10 minutes more, until the vegetables are very soft and translucent.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken broth and ditalini. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 6-7 minutes until the ditalini is almost al dente but still a bit toothsome.
Add the drained cannellini beans, crushed tomatoes and parsley. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the beans are warmed through.
Season with freshly ground black pepper and additional kosher salt to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling over each bowl.