Pasta vasul

A classic family recipe that is simple, quick, and inexpensive. For me, it is memories of my Mema, my Aunt Paula, and my mom, especially when the garlic and onions are cooking in olive oil–its the best smell in the whole world. It’s like a time machine that takes me back to childhood.

Here goes…you’ll need:

The cast of characters. The vasules. Is that how you spell the plural of beans in Italian?

  • A yellow onion, small dice
  • Garlic, minced, 3-4 cloves, or more if you like it like I do
  • 14.5 oz can white beans (no draining!!!)
  • 14.5 oz can red beans (again, no draining!!!)
  • small can tomato sauce (the medium can is in the photo below, but I only used half)
  • 1/2 bag elbow macaroni
  • parsley and basil, dry or fresh, whatever you got
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Boil up some salted water and cook the pasta. A little underdone would be good, as it’s going to cook in more liquid later.

While this is happening…

Heat the olive oil over med-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, but be careful not to brown/burn the garlic. Just turn the heat down a bit and stir often.

Once the onion and garlic are soft, add the beans with the bean-juice and the can of tomato sauce. My mom would tell you to add a little water to the cans, swish to rinse out a bit, and dump the swished-up water in there too. Knock yourself out with that. Bring on the heat and get this simmering, lid off. We want it to get nice and thick.

By now your pasta is probably cooked. Drain it but don’t lose all the water down the drain–you might need some of this pasta water in a sec…Oh, and no rinsing! Rinsing washes off all the nice starches that are going to help the sauce stick to the pasta.

Add the pasta to the simmering tomato-bean goodness. Let this all simmer for a bit, I dunno, 5-10 minutes or so maybe (this is zen cooking, you just gotta feel it), if it gets too thick, add some of that pasta water (glad you saved it now, aren’t you?) or some regular water if you didn’t manage to save any, no biggie.

Add your parsley and basil, salt and pepper to taste (take it easy on the salt if you plan to top with Parmesan cheese, which is salty, and which you do plan to do if you know what’s good for you) and here’s what you end up with:

The sauce shouldn’t be very red, but more pinkish-orange. Tomato is not supposed to overwhelm here, just play its part along with the other ingredients.

Now, find a nice big bowl and a nice big spoon. Fill your bowl with pasta vasul. Top with cheese. Eat and be happy. Better yet, eat leftovers tomorrow and be happier, this gets better as the flavors meld over time.

I think "yum" about sums it up.



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