Pasta e fagioli, which means “pasta with beans” is a staple meal in any Italian kitchen. The freezer meal version of this recipe removes two steps: soaking dried beans overnight and boiling pasta (the beans soak automatically in the broth as they freeze, and again as the meal is defrosting, and the pasta gets mixed right into your crockpot and simmers for 20 minutes, no boiling required). I used dried beans a lot during quarantine, because they were easy to come by in bulk and less expensive than canned or boxed versions. Add a green salad, and you’ve got a fully balanced, Nonna-approved meal. Mangia!
This meal can be made into a freezer meal (see “Make it a freezer meal” instructions below.) To make freezer meal prep easier, I suggest investing in baggy stands to hold your freezer bags upright, and reusable freezer bags to cut down on single use plastics.
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- 1 cup dried kidney or pinto beans
- 1 cup dried cannellini or navy beans
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
- 1 25 ounce can or box crushed tomatoes
- ½ of a 15 ounce can plain tomato sauce
- 6 cups vegetable broth, divided
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
To add when there are 20 minutes left on timer:
- Soak dried beans overnight in water, then drain.
- Add beans, garlic, carrots, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, 4 cups of broth, spices and bay leaf to your slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high for four hours (or low for eight hours).
- When there are 20 minutes left, stir in the pasta.
- Remove lid and check that the beans and pasta are tender.
- The broth tends to get soaked up by the beans and pasta, so you may want to add some of the remaining 2 cups of broth until your desired thickness is reached and give it a good stir before serving.
- If you’d like, you can shave some Violife Just Like Parmesan to pass at the table for sprinkling, along with some fresh thyme or oregano if you have it on hand.
To make it a freezer meal:
- Place the dried beans (no need to soak first), garlic, carrots, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, 4 cups of broth, spices and the bay leaf into a freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible, label the bag, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to serve, thaw the meal in your refrigerator, pour into your slow cooker, cover and cook on high for four hours (or low for eight hours). Then, follow steps 4 through 7 above.