I’ve called this recipe “Pasta e Fagioli alla Calabrese” because it is my best attempt at recreating the version of pasta e fagioli to which I was treated while visiting my dad’s cousin a few years ago in Castellabate, a town about two hours south of Naples in the Calabria region of Italy. I don't *think* she used tomatoes, as her end result was pasta and beans in a garlicky broth with a bit of heat from some paprika. She also used roughly cut, likely handmade, pasta, but I’ve cheated and used roughly broken lasagna sheets. —Elena Giannella
dried pinto or cranberry (borlotti) beans
Soak the dried beans in a large bowl of water for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Before you begin cooking, drain the beans and rinse well.
Put the beans in a large pot and fill with water so that the water level is at least 3 inches above the beans. Bring the water to a simmer.
After a half hour of simmering, skim off the foam at the top of the water, then put in the 3 whole garlic cloves, the the celery pieces, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ~tbsp of salt, and ~tsp of black pepper. Continue to simmer for ~30 minutes then add the broken lasagna sheets. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes then check to see if the pasta is soft, and taste the beans. If the beans are still a bit hard and chalky, continue to simmer and check at 10 minute intervals until done.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and fry until golden. Remove the garlic (I add the fried garlic to the simmering beans for more garlicky flavor, or you could just discard it) and take the pot off the heat. Stir in the paprika.
When beans and pasta are soft, carefully transfer the contents of the bean pot to the olive oil and paprika, removing the bay leaves, garlic, and celery as you go. Stir in fresh chives, if using. Let sit, covered, for at least 30 minutes.
Serve in bowls with parmesan cheese and additional paprika to taste.