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Clean Pasta Fagioli

By request, here’s a super easy and super clean recipe for traditional pasta fagioli. I grew up in an Italian family (well, my mom’s side), living with both my Italian grandmother and great-aunt. So one of the women in my house made this meal at least once a week, especially during the winter months. Sometimes they added pancetta or bacon or some kind of meat. Sometimes they added spinach or escarole. So in the recipe below, I’ve given you the options to make it plain, with meat, with greens or with everything. (The only thing you’ll need to do differently if you add the ground meat is to add a little broth.) My grandma always made it with ditalini pasta (the short tubes) but you can use small shells or any small pasta. (I found brown rice ditalini on Amazon). Some traditional recipes call for fresh rosemary to be added in when the beans go in, but my family didn’t cook it that way. If yours did, then go for it! We always ate this with a crusty toasted bread and tons of fresh grated Parmesan. I find that nutritional yeast does the job nicely or a vegan grated Parmesan. As always, enjoy and please post your photos and comments! (And by the way, we pronounced it “pasta vazool”... I didn’t know how to spell it until I was in my 30’s!)


* 1 tbsp ghee or avocado oil

* 1 lb ground turkey or chicken (optional)

* 1 medium onion, chopped

* 2 cloves garlic, minced

* 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

* ½ tsp salt

* ½ tsp ground black pepper

* 1 bay leaf

* 1 cups veggie or chicken stock (add this ONLY if you use the ground meat in this recipe)

* 1 can (28 oz) clean tomato sauce

* 2- 15oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

* 2 cups baby spinach (optional)

* 1/2 lb cooked brown rice Ditalini or other small clean pasta (saving up to 3 cups of pasta water)

* ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

* Vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (for garnish)


1. In a large saucepan, heat the ghee or oil over medium heat. (If you’re choosing to use ground meat, brown the meat for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.)

2. Then add the chopped onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until onion is translucent and soft. Add in the garlic, red pepper, bay leaf, salt and ground black pepper. Allow the mixture to sauté for just less than a minute (so as not to burn the garlic.)

3. Add the tomato sauce and beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. (If you’ve used the ground beef, you’ll also add the stock to the mixture now).

4. Before serving, remove the bay leaf, add the cooked pasta to the tomato and bean sauce, thinning with the reserved pasta water, using 1/2 cup at a time until desired thickness/thinness is achieved. (You probably won’t use all 3 cups.) Stir in the spinach (if you choose to use it) until wilted.

5. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast.

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