pasta e fagioli

4 to 6    |   
Prep Time:
20 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
30 minutes

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pasta fagioli

I’m becoming a mono-tasker. You know what I mean: someone who used to be able to handle ten things at once and now can barely do two. Like this morning when I was talking on the phone and pouring out cereal, which ended up on the floor. Or reading the mail while walking around the corner a few weeks ago and spraining my ankle on a snag in the cement.  No no no. It’s one thing at a time from now on.

Except for pasta. It’s such a seamless, logical process, you can do two things at once without stumbling: start the sauce in one pan, bring the water to boil in another, stir the sauce, cook the pasta, combine them both. The only thing to watch is the timing — the pasta needs to be a little al dente when it goes into the sauce so it can finish cooking there. When I made whole-wheat spaghetti with garbanzo beans and the last heirloom tomatoes for meatless Monday yesterday, this two-pot dinner made me feel like a one-task wonder. The fact that it also happened to be healthy made me slap an extra gold star on my chest.


olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, halved lengthwise then chopped
kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
leaves from a small branch of rosemary, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or 14-oz can chopped tomatoes)
15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound regular or whole-wheat spaghetti or penne
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese


Coat the bottom of a wide sauté pan with oil then place pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and garbanzo beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover pan and cook until the tomatoes have melted and the sauce is thick, about 20 minutes. Lift the lid and stir once or twice to make sure sauce doesn’t scorch (if it does, add a splash of water).

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt, then add the pasta and cook until truly al dente, about a minute less than the time indicated on the package. Drain pasta, saving a cup or so of the cooking water, and add pasta to the saute pan. Toss with tongs until the pasta soaks up the sauce, stirring in a little reserved cooking water if needed to keep things moist. Serve pasta in warmed bowls, sprinkled with cheese.