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It's Good Friday and Pasta e Fagioli is on the menu

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Today is Good Friday, the most solemn day on the Catholic liturgical calendar. It is a day to commemorate Jesus’s crucifixion and death. Lent is over; Good Friday is part of the Easter Triduum (three days), which began last night with the Mass of the Last Supper.

Good Friday is one of the seven Fridays throughout the year in which Catholics are still required to abstain from eating meat. Before the ban on eating meat (except during Lent and on Good Friday) was lifted by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960's, Catholics did not eat meat, or foods containing meat, on any Friday. Back then, Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) was a popular go-to meal in Italian households on Friday nights. These days, Pasta e Fagioli has more of a universal appeal, fueled in part by the increase in vegetarianism and the overall desire of many people to just eat less meat in general.

Pasta e Fagioli is on the menu this Good Friday. Here’s a family recipe, the taste of which many baby-boomer Italian Catholics will remember from their childhood. You can enrich the protein content of Pasta e Fagioli by using whole wheat pasta in the recipe or serving whole wheat Italian bread.

Pasta e Fagioli is a satisfying way to end the Friday Lenten abstinence and prepare for the feasts of Easter.

Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth (you can use other types of broth if you make this after Lent)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 t Italian seasoning (or more, according to taste)
1 cup small, tube-shaped pasta, such as ditalini, elbows, or mini –penne, cooked and cooled
Black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

1. Place oil in heavy-duty stock pot and heat.
2. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Sauté, over medium heat, until vegetables are soft.
3. Add broth, beans, and Italian seasoning to the pot. Bring these ingredients to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for five minutes.
4. Add the cooked pasta to the pot and continue to simmer for five minutes longer.
5. Season with black pepper and serve.
6. If desired, sprinkle a spoon or two of grated mozzarella cheese on the top.

You can make this recipe more "soupy" by adding more broth, or thicker, by adding more beans or cooked pasta.

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