My Pasta e Fagioli

This week on Friday Feast, lucky devils that you are, you have ME again. I’m sharing one of my absolute favourite pasta recipes, showing off my new release again (because I can, and I love it to bits and want you to as well), and… oh, let’s have a giveaway. It’s been too long!

But before you get to that excitement, you must endure news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. As mentioned last week, the past weekend saw me compete in the final round of the Romance author Cathryn Heinclub championships and I came SECOND! Okay, so technically with only two of us ladies left in the field I also came last but we’ll  ignore that. What was kind of cool was the gallery (aka the hecklers) surrounding the 18th green, watching the field come in, and me making a very respectable par in front of them instead of cracking under the pressure. Not normal Hein golfing behaviour at all!

Now to plug my book, which I’m allowed to do to my heart’s content because it’s my blog and I have overlord (overlady?) powers. I will, however, try not to be boring.

So… reviews for my new release Summer and the Groomsman are coming in and they’re lovely! I’m so chuffed. 5 stars from Talking Books Blog and 8/10 from Bree at 1 Girl 2 Many Books, along with lots of very kind comments about the sweet characters and the humour of the story.

It’s enough to make a girl a little teary. Or drink fizz. I prefer the latter.

On the off chance you haven’t had enough of it yet (which of course you haven’t), here’s the cover and blurb.

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Oooh, this story is FUN. And you should buy it now, oh yes you should! Try Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks or Nook.

Now, grab those pots and fire up that stove, because this recipe’s a cracker.

Pucker-Up For Pasta

By now you’re all probably aware that I’m a sucker for recipes that taste disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort they take to prepare. I never used to be this way though. In fact, there was once a time when the longer the recipe, the more complicated, the more ingredients it required, the happier I was. And if it involved learning some obscure new technique, even better.

Personally, I blame the 80s.

Me at uni graduation with big hair

Me on graduation day with big hair and even bigger shoulder pads beneath my gown.

Everything had to be bigger and better then: hair, shoulder pads… plates. Remember enormous white plates with tiny bits of lonely food on them? So fashionable. I still have the most beautiful Royal Doulton set in my crockery collection. You could eat entree and main off those things and still have room for dessert, but I’ll never get rid of them because they’re so nice.

The ‘more is better’ fad followed me into the early 90’s too, when I moved to Melbourne. I used to hold these dinner parties that would take days to prepare for and involve early morning trips to Queen Victoria Market followed by hours in the kitchen and exhaustion by the end of the evening. Vogue Entertaining magazine was my bible, along with Elle Cuisine and another short-lived ultra-cheffy one I can’t recall the name of.

These days? It’s all about maximum taste from minimum effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to spend an afternoon in the kitchen playing around with something novel. I adore cooking, trying new ingredients, learning new techniques, especially on a Friday when there’s the end of the week to celebrate. Weekdays though, it’s all good food done fast. Well, not necessarily fast but certainly without drama.

Which brings me to today’s recipe, pasta e fagioli. Pasta and beans.

I’m sure there are hundreds of different recipes for this, and I certainly don’t claim the following as authentic. Not even close. In fact, my version is a total mash-up, and even then I change it around, depending on my mood. But in my book adaptability is a sign of a great recipe, plus mucking about is fun. I think traditionally, like many cucina povera dishes, pasta e fagioli is meatless. I also believe it’s meant to be runnier, like a soup. I make my version thick and serve as a plated pasta. Easy to eat and very satisfying.

The key to the success of this recipe is in the sausages. Honestly, if you don’t have good Italian sausages, don’t bother making it. Without them the dish will turn out ordinary. With them, it’ll be delicious. But as I’m sure you know, using quality ingredients is the secret to getting the best out of all recipes.

Look for lovely chunky pork sausages with plenty of seasoning. Fennel is a must, and if you can score ones with chilli in them as well, even better.

Pasta e Fagioli – Pasta and Beans

Serves 4

My Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 fat Italian sausages

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Dried chilli flakes to taste (if the sausages are chilli-less), 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon

400g can tomato polpa (or used tinned tomatoes and crush them up with your hands or a potato masher)

½ cup (125ml) beef stock

400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

250g macaroni (or any small pasta – tiny penne works well as tubetti and ditalini)

Grated parmesan to serve

Method

Squeeze the sausage meat from the casings and chop if really chunky or you can feel gristly bits.

Squeezed out Italian sausage meat

Heat a good splodge of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Throw in onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until softened.

Cooking chopped onion

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Increase the heat a little and add sausage meat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add tomato paste, chopped tomato, chilli (if needed) and stock, then simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

Simmering tomato and sausage meat

Taste and season as needed, then stir in beans to heat through.

Tomato, sausage mince and beans

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente. Drain, add to the sauce and mix.

Spoon onto plates and serve with plenty of grated parmesan, and watch those plates clear!

Empty plate

Okey-dokey, cos I’m feeling in the mood for one, let’s have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Hmm, which book shall I put up for grabs? I had planned to give away a print copy of Summer and the Groomsman but, annoyingly, they’re not ready yet (gah!). How about a copy of my debut Promises by Cathryn Heinrelease Promises instead? I love that story. It’s a bit Romeo and Juliette-ish, is set in south-east South Australia where I’m from, and has lots of gorgeous horses. Perfect!

Already have a copy? That’s okay. If you win, you can always give the copy away as a present. I’ll sign it to whoever you like.

So, to be in the draw to win a signed paperback copy of Promises, simply leave a comment revealing your favourite pasta or noodle dish.

How’s that for easy peasy?

I’ve just shared mine, although I do have many other recipes in my collection that I adore. Veal ragù with home-made papardelle springs to mind – that dish is amaaaazing – and I just love spinach and ricotta canneloni. Ooh, and how can one go past pumpkin ravioli with sage butter? That dish is like eating autumn!

So what’s your favourite? Share and I’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th November 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, there’s plenty to discover on this website, including a fun video on my About page on How To Grow An Australian Romance Author, plus The Story Behind each book and more on its book page. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

 

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