Pasta d'oro con fagioli

This is an easy and delicious variation on the classic pasta dish, pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans), which is often meatless but when it does contain meat it is usually pork. In this particular recipe I used smoked turkey which offers some of the smokiness of bacon or other pork products. I also added a healthy pinch of saffron, which gives it its lovely golden hue (hence the d'oro title). As usual, this recipe is not carved in stone and is just a suggestion; use whichever flavor combinations you like. And while this recipe is scaled to serve a crowd it can be halved (or quartered) and freezes well also. But something tells me that after a taste there will be no need to freeze it...

Golden Pasta with Beans and Smoked Turkey
(pasta d'oro con fagioli)
Makes about 6 quarts

1 pound dried white beans
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound smoked turkey, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon basil leaves
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1 generous pinch saffron
6 plum tomatoes, diced
4 quarts chicken broth
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound ditalini pasta
Parmesan cheese to serve

Rinse the beans, then place them in a pot or bowl with enough cool water to cover them by two inches. Soak the beans for a few hours, or overnight, then drain them and set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy soup pot and add the turkey, browning it slightly. Remove the turkey and set aside. To the same hot pot, add the onion, celery, carrots, and bell pepper. Saute the vegetables for a couple minutes, then add the garlic and saute another minute. Stir in the basil, oregano, fennel, hot pepper, and saffron. Cook the herbs and spices for a minute or so to bring out their flavors. Add the soaked beans to the pot, along with the browned turkey, and the tomatoes, broth, and salt. Bring the broth to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the beans for about an hour, or until very soft, stirring as needed. If too much liquid evaporates, a water or broth. When the beans are soft add the pasta to the pot and simmer about ten minutes.

Urban Simplicity.