Saturday 1 August 2015

Pasta e Fagioli with Crispy Prosciutto

I'm having a bit of a soup obsession lately. I think it could be that all I feel like doing when I get home from work is curling up on the couch with a big bowl of steaming soup. Growing up my mum didn't make many soups, mainly because my dad has never been a fan of them. Why? I don't understand because I can't get enough of them this winter.

I made Pasta e Fagioli with Crispy Prosciutto from Ashley Rodriguez's new cookbook 'Date night in' last Tuesday night and it only scraps the surface of whats in this cookbook. This book is full of inspirational menus bursting with ideas, the chapter introductions give you an insight into her home and kitchen and the date nights she shares are just special. Some of the menu's have a cocktail to start the chapter, which is her husbands forte but most of the menu's have entree, main and dessert. Flicking through the pages makes me wish date night was every night but I don't know if I could mentally cope with the amount of washing up after each night if we were to have three courses each night. I am envious of all dishwasher owners.

Pasta e Fagioli with Crispy Prosciutto from Date Night In | Dani Elis | salt sugar and i

She has make-ahead tips and tricks throughout the whole book which could also work for dinner parties if you doubled recipes. It makes me want to rent a bigger apartment to fit a bigger dining table with more chairs so I can host dinner parties each week. I didn't make the whole kit and caboodle for dinner on Tuesday night, just the main which I originally thought was a pasta recipe by looking at the photo but boy was I wrong. I was in for a delicious pasta and bean soup with a crispy piece of prosciutto on top. Perfect for a cold night in watching 'House of Cards' on Netflix (I am completely obsessed with this show right now).

The soup itself was relatively easy but didn't compensate on flavour. Ashley gives you a make-ahead tip so you can reheat a couple of days later but to make sure you cook the pasta just before serving and not beforehand so it keeps it's al dente bite. I of course double the amount of pasta which meant I had to also double the liquid too... I couldn't help myself... I love pasta and it did mean there was sufficient leftover for greedy guts me and Tris for work the next day but I agree with Ashley on the make-ahead tip. If you are making this the day before don't add the pasta until you want to serve it. The pasta soaks up all the liquid and it turns into more of a past with sauce rather than a pasta soup.

Pasta e Fagioli with Crispy Prosciutto from Date Night In | Dani Elis | salt sugar and i

Now don't be scared of double carbing here. Beans and pasta you say...hmmm. I say... it's amazing! It gives the soup a creaminess without having to actually add cream. It allows the soup to keep all the fresh flavours of the herbs and tomatoes which cream can sometimes dull down. I also really loved the prosciutto which was fried till crispy and served on the side so you could break it up into your soup. It intensified the flavour of it and now and again you found a salt bit of crunch. yum. Am thinking Braised Pork Chilaquiles with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and Pickled Red onions next and maybe a Aperol Spritz or two.

Pasta e Fagioli with Crispy Prosciutto from Date Night In | Dani Elis | salt sugar and i

Pasta e Fagioli with Crispy Prosciutto

Recipe by Ashley Rodriguez from her cookbook 'Date Night In'.
(adapted ever so slightly by me)
Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion
2 celery stalks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
140g orecchiette pasta (I used shells)
4 slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan

- Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and saute the onion, celery, garlic, salt, oregano and thyme for about 8 to 10 minutes until fragrant and the onions are translucent.

- Add the chicken stock, beans and tomatoes and bring everything to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10 minutes- If you are making the soup in advance, stop here and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

- When you are ready to serve dinner, bring the soup back to the boil and add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions or until pasta is al dente, about 10 - 12 minutes.

- Meanwhile, crisp the prosciutto in a non-stick frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat until it shrivels and the fat has rendered, about 1 - 2 minutes on each side. Transfer it onto some paper towel. Once the prosciutto cools it will turn crispy.

- Once the pasta is cooked, stir in the parsley, taste and adjust seasoning (keep in mind that the prosciutto and parmesan are salty) and serve with grated parmesan and a piece of crispy prosciutto on top.

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