This is the story of how I bought 5 ingredients from Trader Joe’s and made one of my favorite dinners of all time.
The story begins with Lunch Envy as I watched my friend and coworker eat her saucy baby pasta with all those tiny chopped veggies in that creamy tomato base in the beloved teacher’s lounge. The place where great lunch ideas are born, right? I asked for the recipe before she had even taken one bite. Like the recipe-hungry food-bloggin’ girl that I am.
To develop the story for you, things have been pretty crazy for us lately. Oh yeah, that’s right, welcome to all of the lives of all the people in the world. WHY, you guys? Why do we do this to ourselves?
With the closing on our new old house which I have affectionately come to call our Yum Sweet Home (and which will be pictured in the next few days), and the out of town weekends for things like Holiday Baking Classes (rough. I know.), and the back-to-work Mondays with early morning meetings, and the late night cookie baking
to keep caught up on the blog to keep sane, and the preparing for showings on our current home which = cleaning which = wahhh, I just don’t even know. ALL OF THE THINGS. Time starts to feel slippery.
And then, I know you probably can’t relate because you are beautiful home cooks who find time to make your families wholesome home cooked meals always no matter what, but we here in this home often find ourselves making up for lost time by eating things like toast and cereal and frozen Amy’s organic meals. Which I could eat forever but it would still probably be good to cook once in a while.
Cereal be gone.
Simple dinner that has rockin flavor: come to me.
Pasta e Fagioli just means pasta with beans, at least as I understand it after two seconds of Wiki reading. I added chicken sausage because, well, meat. So I claim no authenticity here, just a recipe that tastes great and takes very little time.
Trader Joe’s was the perfect place to stop on my way home from work because I could pick up some high quality short cut ingredients like the aforementioned CHICKEN SAUSAGE and a newbie to my ingredient favorites: MIREPOIX.
The chicken sausage that I bought was spicy Italian, made with red wine and Formaggio cheese. Um, what? How delicious is that?! (Very.) I just about burned my nose off cooking it – you know, when you cook spicy stuff and you end up basically choking? but then I settled down and ate a lot of it. Fast. It was so very yummms.
And then the mirepoix? Just a fancy word for chopped celery and carrots and onions that will be used as the veggie base here. TJ’s hooked me up by chopping the veggies for me and packaging them in a little container and placing them in the produce section for my time-hungry eyes to see.
By the way, this is in no way sponsored by Trader Joe’s. I am just over the moon excited that there’s one open within 20 miles of my house and was so happy with how their ingredients worked in this recipe. Superfan.
When this all cooks up, it’s going to look like a lot of sauce at first. Really good sauce, made with San Marzano (aka best tasting high quality) tomatoes and a plethora of other veggies. Including my friend baby spinach who had been occupying a lonely shelf on the fridge and needed a good home.
But just when you’re questioning whether you actually need this much sauce or not, you add the pasta – as it turns out, orchiette from Trader Joe’s will be a good choice – and the sauce just soaks right into the pasta and you’re left with this velvety texture that is both saucy and thick. It’s not like soup, it’s like saucy pasta. Loaded with veggies. And red wine Formaggio chicken sausage.
You will love this.
- 1 lb. chicken sausages in casing. GO SPICY if u dare.
- 1½ cups mirepoix - chopped celery, carrot, and onion*
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoons ground oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 14-ounce can cannellini beans
- 28 ounces chicken broth
- 1 lb. small pasta - I used orchiette
- 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
- shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for topping
- Remove the chicken from its casing. In a large pot, brown the chicken sausage over medium high heat and drain the excess grease. Set aside.
- Crush the San Marzano tomatoes and sauce in a food processor and set aside. Drain the cannellini beans. Place in a food processor. Refill the can with water, add to the food processor, and puree until very smooth.
- In the same large pot as step one, saute the mirepoix, garlic, oregano, salt, and bay leaf (with a little olive oil if needed) until soft and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, pureed beans, and broth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Saucy.
- Add the pasta and simmer for another 20 minutes until pasta is cooked through as sauce is reduced. Throw in the baby spinach and the chicken sausage from step one. If needed, add water or broth to adjust the consistency of the pasta before serving. Top with cheese.
- Save some for lunch tomorrow. It makes awesome leftovers.