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Pasta and Beans

Pasta and Beans
Another excellent wintertime dish. When springtime flowers and nesting birds seem like nothing more than a distant memory, this is the sort of dish that makes winter seem worthwhile. Big bowls of this dish, heaping with meat, vegetables, and pasta, are even more delicious when the weather is cold and the wind blows. This makes about eight servings, depending on your appetite.
Ingredients:

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/4 pound bacon, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
2 onions, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock (or turkey)
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
2 cans cannellini beans, 19 ounces each, well drained, divided (or cook your own cannellini)
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 14-ounce can tomatoes, drained, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 cups tubular pasta
1 cup cooked orzo
1 carrot, shredded
Parmesan cheese
Chopped basil



Directions:


Place a heavy soup pot over medium heat and use it to cook the Italian sausage in a small amount of water. The pot should remain covered until the sausage has browned. This should take about ten minutes.

Remove the sausage to a plate and permit it to cool. Chop it into pieces and then use a processor to grind the sausage pieces.


Brown the bacon in the same pot, using a bit of olive oil if necessary. When the bacon is browned, return the chopped sausage to the pot.

Add the ground beef. Cook until both have browned, which should take about 15 minutes.

Add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir the mixture constantly.

Add the stock and skim any fat that rises to the surface. Cook at a simmer for about ten to 15 minutes.


In a food processor, blend the tomato sauce with 1 cup of cannellini beans until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the pot and add the remaining beans, tomatoes, and herbs. After about 5 minutes, add the tubular pasta and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the cooked orzo and carrots and simmer for about ten minutes.

Add more water or stock if necessary to produce a thick consistency.

 

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil.



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