Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pasta Fagioli Casserole

Hello, September!  Hello Pasta Fagioli Casserole!  I have to confess, this year, I have no nostalgia for summer. I am so ready for the fall, and this a perfect dish to warm your belly on a chilly night.  Though, to tell you the truth, my chilly nights still come from the air conditioner.  Don't judge me people.  I like fall.

My mom made a great, quick pasta fagioli when I was growing up, and we had it sometimes before dinner and often as a meal.  It was a frequent request among my sister and me.  I've shared my love for that dish with my husband, and so we were both excited to try this warm, baked pasta fagioli.  It's closer to a baked pasta dish than a soup...the broth turns into a thin, but flavor-packed sauce.  The flavor of the red wine, celery, carrots, and rosemary are an incredible complement to the Parmesan cheese.

This can be made ahead and either refrigerated or frozen, which makes it a great dish for entertaining...or for a late work-night.  We made ours vegetarian (or almost vegetarian...I still used chicken broth).  But you could also add some Italian sausage or chicken or turkey sausage, sauteed before the aromatics are added to the Dutch oven.  I am really curious about trying it with a little turkey bacon...I'd cook it before sauteing the vegetables, remove it from the pan, crumble it, and sprinkle it on top with the Parmesan cheese before baking.

Do check out the cookbook this recipe comes from ...You've Got It Made, by Diane Phillips.  It's a great collection of elegant make-ahead appetizers, main-dishes, braises, casseroles, and desserts.  Make-ahead dishes are often my preference for entertaining, so that I can spend time with my guests.  I really love that this cookbook offers dishes that are worthy as guests!

Pasta Fagioli Casserole
serves 6-8
adapted very slightly from You've Got It Made, by Diane Phillips

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
4 rips celery, chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes in their liquid
1 14.5 oz can vegetable or chicken broth
1 small square Parmesan or Pecorino rind, cut into small pieces
3 14.5oz cans of beans (I used two can of chickpeas and one can of small white beans), drained and rinsed
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Chop the vegetables and set aside.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and rosemary.  Saute for 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
2. Add the wine, salt, and pepper, and boil until the wine is reduced by half.  This will happen quickly, in about 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, and return the mixture to a boil.
3.  Add in the broth, cheese rind, and beans.  Simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 25 minutes.  Add the pasta, and cook for an addition 8 - 10 minutes, until the liquid has thickened and the noodles are al dente.
4. At this point, you may let the dish cool, and then cover and put in the fridge for up to 2 days, or the freezer for up to 2 months.
5. If baking ahead, defrost the casserole in the refrigerator overnight before baking.  Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit, and allow the casserole to come to room temperature (around 40 minutes) before baking.
6. Cover the top of the casserole with the 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.
7. Bake for 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is beginning to brown.


  1. I am hanging onto summer as long as possible, but this does look like the perfect fall comfort meal!

  2. I fell in love with really good pasta fagioli last year and I love the idea of it in a casserole. I definitely have mixed feelings about fall coming...but on the whole I can't wait for comfort food and pumpkin!

  3. This looks wonderful and a great twist on the soup. I would definitely add some turkey sausage if I weren't trying to do a meatless night.

  4. I'm going to try out Mom's recipe as Rice Fagioli later this week. I made pumpkin soup yesterday and have leftover vegetable stock as well as leftover fresh Parmesan cheese from the Risotto with Pesto I'll be making tonight!

  5. Pasta and macaroni both are different. I love to bake various varieties from pasta and i have baked couple of items. I will try out this fagioli recipe which you have shown above.