The robust Italian soup called pasta e fagioli is most often served as soupy beans with a small amount of pasta stirred in. As wonderful as it is, sometimes chef David Tanis likes to reverse the order and turn it into a pasta dish smothered in beans. Bean broth and pasta water make the creamy, savory sauce, along with olive oil and a little pancetta.
Featured in: David Tanis is Crazy for Beans
- 2 cups dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight and drained
- 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
- 4 oz. pancetta, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1⁄4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 oz. orecchiette pasta
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tsp. minced rosemary
In a 4-qt. saucepan, combine the beans with 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook the beans until tender, about 1 hour. Drain the beans and reserve 1 cup of their cooking liquid.
Rinse and wipe out the pan and return to medium heat. Heat the olive oil, add the onions, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pancetta, chile flakes, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the pancetta is just cooked but not crisp, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in the beans and their cooking liquid and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a pan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and reserve 1⁄2 cup pasta water. Stir the pasta and 1⁄4 cup of the pasta water into the beans and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes (add the remaining pasta water if needed to make a creamy sauce). Stir in the pecorino, parsley, and rosemary and serve with more pecorino on the side.