• Vegetarian
  • Soup/Stew

Pasta Fagioli:
An Instant Pot Rendition of an Italian Classic

  • by the Old White Hippie
  • 2 hours total
  • Actual Cooking

This is one of my favorites. It’s a vegetarian dish that my carnivore spouse will eat*, although she still has texture issues with the beans. Speaking of which, it’s got beans, pasta, and spinach all in the same dish, definitely another win. I first found this recipe because the local groceries got wiped out by panic buying during the early days of the first Covid lockdown, and the grocery was out of kidney beans and pinto beans and navy beans, but had an entire box of pound bags of cranberry beans. Apparently nobody else knew what to do with them either. I’m a former student librarian and I understand how to use Google. Presto, the recipe we are about to tackle tonight.
* See later note

I'm an Old White Hippie. This is my kitchen. Let's get cooking.

    30 minutes
  • Cook TIME
    90 minutes

  • 1 lb dry cranberry beans
  • Sweet onion, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic, twice
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 26 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp and 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano, twice
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Better Than Bouillon veg base and water to make 6 cups
  • 2 cups shell pasta
  • 10 ounce bag spinach or kale
  • Water as required

Ingredients mostly marshalled. Onion, red pepper flakes, rosemary, minced garlic, basil, oregano, paprika, tomatoes, shell pasta. Not shown: beans, spinach, veg base.

First, chop the onion. I'm cutting it a bit smaller than I usually would.

Onion goes into the instant pot on saute with a splash of olive oil. Once it's softened, add 3 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, 1/4 tsp of red pepper, and saute to awaken the spices. I may have been a little casual in my measurements. Rosemary is annoying to measure out of the grinder, and I like a lot of it. There's two 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes in there because I couldn't find my 26 oz can of crushed tomatoes. Basil, paprika, oregano went in as well. Those seasonings with dual measurements will get used again, wait for it.

I'm using light red kidney beans instead of cranberry beans because that's what I had in the pantry. These and the good old standby, Better Than Bouillon veg base, will go into the instant pot, then to the beans cycle with the time turned up to 30 minutes, the beans took forever to get done last time.

Finally got the fool beans done. This instant pot, not the one I thought I would be working with, doesn't do time adjustments, only presets. I ran the beans cycle three times before I realized I could have just run the meat cycle once as it's 15 minutes to the beans cycle's 5 and the only real difference is the duration at pressure. Added more basil, more oregano, more garlic, told you the extra helpings of those would get used, the rest of a container of baby spinach we had in the fridge to use up the fresh before it went bad, and a box of shell pasta, which is about twice as much pasta as the recipe calls for. I'll need to stir often and watch my liquid level as it finishes.

The finished product. Probably could have used a bit more water. As the pasta cooked, it took up more water than I expected, but then I was doubling the amount I threw in. No matter, still tasted good. I added a generous sprinkling of Himalayan pink salt at the end because that was the salt my spouse and middle kid insisted on getting. Something about mineral content, I dunno. I got a generous dinner helping for three people (spouse is doing the keto diet and can't eat this), and five of those screw-top disposable storage containers, that if you take proper care of can last for years. One's in the fridge, four in the freezer. I need to get the roll of blue tape and a sharpie and label all that stuff tomorrow, so somebody besides me knows what's in the containers. Pastafazool.