If there’s anything that’s exponentially increased during quarantine, it’s home cooking. Many Americans stuck inside have found themselves tasked with cooking for themselves for the first time, and others have simply moved into a humming rhythm, cooking every night as if it were any other day.
Related Reading: The Best Ways to Use All the Beans in Your Pantry
But no matter what kind of cook you are, everyone can benefit from a guide to the essentials of home cooking. “Modern Country Cooking” is that manual, a book filled with techniques, basic skills, and a slew of seasonal recipes pulled from Salt Water Farm, a favorite culinary school in Maine anchored by Annemarie Ahearn. Annemarie earned her culinary chops working at big-name magazines, like Saveur, before training under NYC chefs Dan Barber and Tom Colicchio.
Modern Country Cooking: Kitchen Skills and Seasonal Recipes from Salt Water Farm, $29.04 on Amazon
Nowadays, she fills her time operating her culinary school in Lincolnville, ME, instructing food lovers on essential cooking skills, and her book is a further extension of that work. Here, you’ll find tips for operating productively in the kitchen, coupled with seasonal recipes, like Maine coast paella, sour cherry clafoutis, and bright green gazpacho.
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Ahead, you’ll find Annemarie’s recipe for pasta e fagioli, a dish that’s ideal made with fresh beans, but lends itself quite well to using all those beans hiding away in your pantry. Brimming with plenty of herbs, tomatoes, borlotti beans (if you’ve only got dried beans, those’ll do in a pinch) , and ribbons of fresh egg pasta, this dish is sure to warm up both stomachs and minds. Garnish the finished bowl with a sprinkling of fresh parmesan and a glug of olive oil and you’ll be good to go.
Pasta e Fagioli Recipe
This meal was inspired by a pile of gorgeous speckled pink and white borlotti beans that I posted on Instagram, asking my followers, What should I do with these? My dear friend, who gave me an incredible tour of Rome while he was working at the American Academy, suggested pasta e fagioli. The garden was full of overripe tomatoes, and we had plenty of garlic still drying in the greenhouse, so it seemed like the perfect dish. And once it was on the table, it did indeed remind me of the time that we had spent together in Rome. If you’re unable to source fresh borlotti beans, any fresh bean will do. In a pinch, you can use a dried bean, such as Jacob’s Cattle Beans.
Pasta e Fagioli
- 1 cup borlotti beans or other fresh bean, removed from pods
- Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
- 3 cups ripe garden tomatoes, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- Red pepper flakes
- 1 pound fresh egg pasta
- Grated Parmesan, for garnish
- Extra virgin olive oil, for finishing
- 4 small sprigs oregano, for garnish
- Cook the beans. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Salt generously. Add the beans, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the bean liquid, and cool immediately with cold water to stop the cooking. (You do not want the beans to overcook, as they will turn to mush.)
- To make the sauce: In a large, shallow, heavy-bottomed pan warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and let soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt, pepper, and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt, fresh ground pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- To cook the pasta: Fill a large pot with water and salt generously. Bring it to a boil. Add the fresh pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 to 6 minutes. Warm the sauce over medium heat. Add the beans to it, along with 1 cup of bean water. Once cooked, transfer the pasta to the sauce with a set of tongs, bringing a bit of pasta water along with it. You want the sauce to be loose but not liquidy. Toss the pasta in the sauce with the beans for 1 or 2 minutes and then twist nests of pasta into individual bowls. Garnish with a little grated Parmesan, a small pour of good olive oil, and a sprig of oregano.
Header image by Kristin Teig.