When I lived in Italy with one of my closest friends, Melody, we used to go to a restaurant, Luzzi, up the street from our apartment. Before we found Luzzi, we were victims of many a tourist traps. I remember once, when we first arrived, we ate at a restaurant across the street from the Coliseum: we paid four Euros for a can of Coke and, I think, seven for an order of fries; it was not worth it. However, once we found an apartment, we lived with two sisters from Ireland who were able to recommend restaurants.
I remember finishing work and meeting Mel at Luzzi at least once a week, usually on the weekends. It was also right by the Coliseum, but unlike the other place, we could get a whole pizza for four Euros and croft of wine for six. Luzzi was always crowded with locals sipping wine or San Pellegrino (water) and eating. In the fall, they put an old TV on a kitchen cart and the locals would eat, watch the soccer games, and cheer loudly for their team. It was such a popular place that I don’t remember a time when Mel and I didn’t have to wait to be seated, and, like many of the regulars, we always sat outside where they kept heating lamps in the fall and winter. When you were seated, you were seated at a long table often close to other people. Sitting close to others would normally have bothered me but there was a decent amount of space between chairs and I found the low mumble of Italian conversation comforting. It was at Luzzi that I first tried pasta fagoli and Italy’s version of a vegetable pizza. Of course, during my nightly talk with Ben, I told him about Luzzi and the pasta fagoli and pizza.
When I returned from Italy, Ben, who has always loved to cook Italian, began making pasta fagoli. There are many versions of pasta fagoli. I think that is one of the fun things about pasta fagoli; you can be creative with it. The kind we ate at Luzzi was a soup, and the version Ben makes is truly a pasta dish. Here is the version we eat most often (except Ben usually uses rosemary). Hope you enjoy!
- 2 cans great northern beans
- 1/8 lb bacon (about 4 or 5 strips) or pancetta
- 1 garlic clove.
- 1 white onion
- 1 sprig rosemary or curly parsley (rosemary is best)
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ quart chicken stalk
- 2 cups elbow pasta
- salt and pepper to taste
- (Some cut tomatoes mixed in also taste great)
- Boil water
- Cut half an onion and cook on stove top while water is boiling in a separate pan. Be sure to stir onion occasionally.
- In the meantime, mince garlic and prepare to cook bacon in the oven or on the stove top.
- After cooking onion for five minutes, add garlic to onion
- Stir only garlic with onion until garlic is fragrant
- After garlic is fragrant, add beans. Cook beans with onion and garlic for about 45 seconds, and then lower heat to medium low heat.
- Add two tablespoons olive oil to a new pan in preparation to cook bacon. Turn heat on to medium high.
- Add chicken broth to beans, onion, and garlic.
- Add bacon to pan and cook until brown.
- Add pasta to boiling water and boil for five minutes
- The beans should be ready to remove from stove top at this point.
- When bacon is finished, cut bacon into and mix in with beans
- Drain noodles in a colander and add to beans and bacon
- Grate ¼ cup of Parmesan into pasta and mix so that it melts
- Add 1 or 2 stalks of rosemary (parsley can be substituted)