Black-eyed peas are common New Year’s Day fare, believed by many to bring good fortune in the coming year. As a bonus, legumes such as black-eyed peas are incredibly good for you, and will help start 2011 on the right foot, nutritionally speaking. A Hoppin’ John recipe is popular for those who cook with black-eyed peas (little white beans with a black spot that make them look like eyes), but pasta e Fagioli (pronounced pasta fazool, as in when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s amore) is an easy dish that makes for a simple, flavorful, inexpensive yet hearty dinner any night of the week, with a high proportion of vegetables to meat, which is used more as a condiment.
To make a vegetarian version, leave out the bacon altogether and use vegetable stock.
Pasta e Fagioli (Fazool)
If you have a couple slices of bacon or pancetta around all the better; chop and sauté them first, then remove it from the pan to cook the onion and other veg. Add it back to the soup at the very end.
What you need: onion; garlic; carrot; celery; broth; canned beans; canned tomatoes; any small shaped pasta
Chop a small onion and clove of garlic; sauté in a little oil over medium heat until soft. Add a chopped celery rib and chopped carrot and cook for a few more minutes.
Add 2 cups of chicken, beef or vegetable stock and a 14 oz. (398 mL) can diced, whole, stewed or crushed tomatoes. Mash half of a 14 oz. (398 mL) can of drained black-eyed peas with a fork and add them along with the rest of the beans. If you have it, add a pinch of dried oregano and/or a sprig of fresh rosemary. Bring to a simmer and add 1/2 cup dry pasta; cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender. If the soup is too thick, add a little extra stock, more tomatoes or water.
Season with salt and pepper and serve hot, preferably with grated Parmesan.