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Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze

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on June 3, 2011 | 4:15 pm | 2 Comments

You know it as Pasta e Fagioli in Italian and Pasta and Beans in English, but it was the Neapolitan version of the name of this dish, Pasta Fasule, that morphed into America’s beloved Pasta Fazool, Pastafazool and Pastafazoola.

Cooking with Giuseppe - Pasta e Fagioli con le CozzeEconomical but filling, it was popular among Italian and Neapolitan immigrants. A dish that once only graced working class tables eventually found its way onto the menus of such prestigious restaurants like Olive Garden.

Okay, so that’s not all that prestigious but…

So beloved was this dish or perhaps its name that Cab Calloway rhymed it with Talullah, Gus Van & Joe Schneck wrote the song Pastafazoola, and who could forget the immortal words of Dean Martin, “When the stars make you drool Joost-a like pasta fazool – That’s Amore!”

And Pasta Fasule – well that is just pure love on a plate. One of those dishes I crave like chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

Cooking with Giuseppe - Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze on a plate

Another recipe out of the pages of Cucina Povera this peasant dish has as many variations as there are regions, provinces, cooks, and ingredients. And while you’re likely to find Pasta Fagioli all over Italy, more than likely, you’ll only find this version in Napoli.

Look up Pasta e Fagioli in a Neapolitan cookbook and you might find it under pasta dishes. Then again, you might find it under soups. Actually, this hardy, stick to your ribs dish teeters in the middle reaching a consistency that dare I say, although not baked, is more akin to a casserole.

And it is this thick, creamy consistency that sets it apart from all others, achieved only by cooking the pasta in the “soup” – the bean and vegetable mixture that is sometimes flavored with a bit of pancetta. This ensures that all of the starchiness from cooking the pasta is retained. Combine that with the starchiness of the beans and it makes for one incredibly comforting dish.

And for a Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze, one need only add some mussels and, this is very important, the liquid they cooked in.

Ingredients

500 Grams Cannellini Beans dried or canned
500 Grams Mussels
500 Grams Pasta Mista
100 Grams Pancetta Coppata
2 Celery Stalks
6 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Whole Clove Garlic
Olive Oil
Fresh Parsley

Cooking Method

If using dried beans, soak them overnight in a pot of cold water
Drain the beans and recover them with cold water
Cook the beans over medium heat about 1 1/2 hours until they are very soft adding water as needed (do not drain)

Cooked Cannellini Beans

While the beans are cooking:
Clean and debeard the mussels
Finely dice the celery
Halve the tomatoes
Chop the parsley
Dice the pancetta

Generously coat the bottom of a large sauce pan with olive oil and heat over medium high heat
Add a whole peeled clove of garlic and the pancetta and saute until the pancetta is cooked
Add the tomatoes, celery, parsley and salt

Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze Vegetables and Pancetta
Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes, stirring occasionaly to break up the tomatoes
Turn off the heat and remove the garlic

Saute the mussels in a pot with a little water until the shells open
Deshell the mussels and reserve the liquid

Bring the tomato and pancetta mixture to temperature over medium heat
Using a slotted spoon, add the beans to the tomato and pancetta mixture
Stir in about 1 glass of the bean liquid and the reserved liquid from the mussels
Add salt to taste
Stir in the pasta and cook over high heat
Continue adding water a bit at a time to ensure there is enough liquid to cook the pasta and to achieve a consistency that is to your taste

Cooking with Giuseppe - Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze

Buon Appettito!

 

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A native Neapolitan, Giuseppe Topo is a hairstylist and one of the owners of Noi Salon, Naples only English-speaking salon. A passionate cook, when he's not styling hair Giuseppe can be found in the kitchen cooking up one of his favorite Neapolitan dishes, which he proudly features on his regular series for Napoli Unplugged, Cooking with Giuseppe.
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2 reviews

  1. Vincenzo, June 3, 2011 5:05 pm - Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze

    Oh my god, I miss that so much! That’s an excellent dish of the so called poor neapolitan cuisine.

    PS: you know me, I am passionate about everything is neapolitan, including the language: the right wording for the dish name in neapolitan is «Pasta e fasule», with «fasule» actually read almost like «fasul», i.e. without the final. Forgive me, I couldn’t resist :)

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      Bonnie, June 3, 2011 5:49 pm - Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze

      Ciao Vincenzo – Thanks for setting that straight. I thought it would be spelled with the “e” and in fact I saw it spelled both ways. It looks like I went with the wrong source LOL. I will make the appropriate corrections :)

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    • Raffaella, February 28, 2012 7:21 pm - Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze

      I am neapolitan from italy Today it is the first time that I heard the pasta and fagioli with cozze. I will try one day it sounds really inteesting. Grazie per la vostra ricetta ciao

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  2. Becky Barber, June 3, 2011 6:13 pm - Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze

    Giuseppe! Delicious! Nothing like a meal from one of the Toppo boys!

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      Bonnie, June 3, 2011 6:23 pm - Pasta e Fagioli con le Cozze

      It was sooooo good!!!

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