Pasta Fagioli

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent Sunday in the kitchen getting ready for a crazy week. My school’s location does not offer much in the way of lunch options so I am forced to plan ahead. Between some evening events at work and early morning workouts it is not rare for me to pack a full three meals worth of food into my handy lunch bag. My sister think’s it is completely dorky that I carry this around with me but my lunch bag is crucial and I don’t care what she says I love it. This brand also seems to be a favorite among the teachers, when you look into the faculty room fridge my bag is never lonely.

My office is quite chilly so my favorite make ahead lunch is without a question soup. Its a great way to warm up midday and it holds really well in transit. I make big batches of soup every couple of weekends throughout the winter and freeze them into smaller portions for lunch. I try and make a few different soups at a time so I don’t have to eat the same thing all week long and keep a nice rotation going. Today I worked some Pasta Fagioli into the mix. Yum! I will be staying nice and warm today with my soup hope you are enjoying your lunch too.

Pasta Fagioli Soup:

Adapted from Rachel Ray

2 tbspn olive oil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried thyme

2 dried bayleaves

1 medium onion chopped

1 medium carrot chopped

2 small ribs of celery, chopped

4 cloves of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

1 (16 oz) can cannelini beans

1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

2 cups water

1 quart chicken stock

1 1/2 cups pasta (ditalini or whatever you have in the cabinet today it was bowties)

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened then add the carrots, celery, herbs and garlic and continue to cook for another five minutes or so. Add salt, pepper, the beans, tomato sauce, water and stock. Allow the soup to come to simmer for 15 minutes or so. Bring the soup to a boil and then add the pasta, cook until al dente – timing dependent on the pasta. This soup in my opinion is better the next day after the flavors have a had a chance to mix and it freezes great!

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Veggie Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs

I have been on cooking hiatus for the past few days. Usually when I know I am going to have a busy week I try to cook a bunch of things ahead of time and use my freezer. Due to a debacle with some questionable ground turkey (and a little too much Karaoke on Saturday night) I failed to spend Sunday afternoon making the chili that was supposed to hold me over for the week. So fast forward a few days to this afternoon – I knew I would have enough time to stop at the store on the way home and pick up ingredients and then spend a little time getting reacquainted with my stove. Having lived on the dregs of my fridge for the past few days cobbling together meals from leftovers I wanted something a little heartier tonight and something that would make good leftovers tomorrow.

I took to the web and was intrigued by this pasta toasted breadcrumbs sounded delicious! I made some adjustments for veggie preferences and what was available at the grocery store on the way home and subbed out some of the ingredients for whole grains and was very pleased with the results! The best part about this meal is the whole thing took less than half an hour, after a long week that was a major perk (and yes I realize it’s only Wednesday but one more work day for me this week and then a nice long weekend!)

Veggie Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs

Inspired by Big Girls Small Kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Red pepper flakes

1/2 onion chopped into slivers

1 medium zucchini sliced into discs then quartered

1/3 pound bowtie pasta (I use Barilla Plus its great for those not ready to make the jump to whole wheat but want a little more out of their pasta-its great for those who don’t believe in whole wheat pasta too)

1/2 bag fresh spinach (2-3 handfuls)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 tsp of thyme

sundried tomatoes

grated parmesan cheese

Start a pot of salted water with olive oil for the pasta. Cook according to directions on the box.

In a frying pan on medium-high heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs and red pepper flakes. My breadcrumbs were already seasoned but if yours aren’t you might want to add some oregano and salt. Coat the breadcrumbs and stir in the pan for about two minutes until crispy.

Transfer the breadcrumbs to a plate in the same pan heat another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes then add the zucchini. After onions are translucent and the zucchini has begin to soften a bit add the garlic and cook until browned then add the spinach. Continue cooking until the spinach becomes soft.

Once pasta is cooked, drain and reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the vegetable mixture coat stir together the pasta, vegetables, thyme and lemon juice. Add enough of the reserved water until the pasta is moist to the proper consistency.

Serve garnished with breadcrumbs, chopped sundried tomatoes and paremsan cheese.

On a completely unfood related note – happy birthday to my awesome Dad!