My brother is staying with me, my husband Thomas and our daughter Anna for the summer and we need to cook larger meals to accommodate all 4 of us. Here is an example of a cheap and quick one pot meal that I like to make. It’s tasty, easily changeable to feed more or less people and is a wholesome, vegetarian, one pot meal.
Pasta Fagioli (or pasta and beans)
Serves: 4-6 with leftovers
Completion time: About 2 1/2 hours
Total Cost: € 7.50
You will need:
1 1/2 Cups (300 grams) of dried White Beans (or Cannellini Beans) Cost: € 1
5 Cups (1,2 kilos) of Diced Tomatoes, Fresh or Canned work well Cost: € 2.50
2 Large or 3 Medium sized Onions Diced Cost: € 1
5-6 Cloves of Garlic Minced Cost: € 0.40
1 Pound (~500 grams) Elbow Noodles or other small pasta Cost: €1.50
Grated Parmesan Cheese to taste Cost: € 1.10
3-4 Cups (~720 to 950 ml) Water
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Basil and other seasonings to taste
For under € 8 you can have a hearty, wholesome meal that will feed an army and won’t break your budget or your free time!
Soak the beans. You can do this the night before or by using the quick soak method (from BonAppetit.com) :
“The quick-soak method is terrific when you don’t have time to let the beans soak overnight. Put the beans in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by three inches. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue simmering for 2 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain.
If you are substituting canned beans for dried, 1 cup of dried beans produces 3 cups of cooked beans.”
While the beans are soaking peel and chop the onions and garlic. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions until translucent and then add the garlic and saute for one minute more.
Add the chopped tomatoes, water and drained beans, stir and then bring everything to a boil. When the soup comes to a boil reduce the heat to a simmer and season with salt, pepper and other seasonings of your choice. I used oregano, basil and garlic powder. You can also add some chili pepper flakes for a little added heat if you like.
Simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are soft, stirring occasionally. About half an hour before the soup is done heat water for the pasta and cook until al dente.
Serve the soup over pasta with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese and top with fresh parsley (optional).