This dish is pure comfort food to John Catucci, host of Food Network Canada’s Big Food Bucket List. It’s his mom’s original recipe – with a few of his own tricks added to it. He makes it at least twice a month. It’s simple but SO delicious and it comes together pretty quickly.
John travels coast to coast checking off one tasty meal at a time and sharing some delightful moments with both the chefs and customers along the way. And be sure to catch brand-new episodes of Big Food Bucket List starting on September 3rd at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada! Food Network Canada is also available to stream live and on demand with STACKTV.
Heat up a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Add the garlic to flavour the oil. Let the garlic get a bit of colour then remove.
Add the onions. Let them soften up but don’t brown them As the onions do their thing, place the beans in a small colander and rinse them in cold water.
Add beans to the onions in the pan. Stir for 2-3 mins.
Add enough chicken stock, or water if you prefer, so the liquid is about an inch over the beans. Throw in the bay leaves.
Bring to boil and then drop to med-low heat, cover and simmer until the fagioli are softened, but not mushy. About 15-20 mins.
As the beans cook, bring a big pot of water to boil. When it starts to boil, add your salt. The water should taste salty. I also add 2 glugs of olive oil to water before I add the pasta. It’s a little trick I learned from a chef in Rome. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water. Strain the pasta and then put it back in the pot.
Check on your beans. Adjust the seasoning and then add the beans and remaining liquid to the cooked pasta.
This is where is gets fun. I turn the heat back on under the pasta and start mixing everything together for 2-3 mins. You want the sauce to coat all the pasta. If it looks too dry, add some of the pasta water. I also add some grated Parmigiano to the pasta as I stir it in the pot.
Serve it up and enjoy. Grate some more cheese over the pasta and pour a little olive oil over the cheese. Grind some black pepper and you’re good to go.
Photo courtesy of The Food Network
More of John's tips for cooking pasta
♦ Please…PLEASE salt the water and taste it. If the water doesn’t taste salty, add more salt.
♦ Don’t over cook your pasta. You want it al dente. Check the pasta box for cooking time and set your kitchen timer for a minute or two less. Then taste the pasta to make sure it’s perfect.
♦ Reserve some pasta water in case your sauce is too dry. I usually use a glass measuring cup and take some water out just before I strain the pasta.
♦ Get yourself some fancy olive oil to finish off the dish. I love to drizzle some over the grated Parmigiano. The combination is magical!