After our visit to Erickson Ranch Saturday morning, we met up with our friends, Betty and Donny, and headed to Napa where I had selected Angèle Restaurant as our lunch destination. The restaurant, in the heart of dowtown Napa, is situated on the bank of the Napa River in an old chandlery (yes, I had to look up that word, too. Chandlery-the warehouse or store of a chandler. Chandler-a dealer in supplies for ships and boats). Whatever it's called, we basked in the perfect weather, sitting under canvas umbrellas on the riverside patio.
I was completely charmed by touches lke the bonsai sized olive tree centerpieces, and the plastic bag "ice bucket", chilling a fabulous local Rosé - Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir. And we heartily enjoyed our lunches- Donny had a Niçoise salad, Ric had an Heirloom Tomato Tartine with Tapenade, and Betty and I shared a small plate of Pork Belly over Beluga Lentils, and an entrée of Salmon with Olive Jus over truly yummy "crushed" potatoes with lemon and dill- yet another example of how sides can really make the dish.
We wandered through the adjacent Hatt Building formerly the Hay Barn for brief window shopping, and a visit to a little bake shop, called Sweetie Pies, where we bought an individual Marjolaine. I wish I could show you a picture of it, but I dug in for a bite of dense, chocolately decadence way before I could pull out the camera. And then it was off on the food lovers' afternoon Betty had planned for us. Our first stop - Rancho Gordo for heirloom beans.
The store is completely unassuming and bare bones, sharing the block in a working class area of Napa with a second hand store. Inside, however, it offered a profusion of dried beans - rows of hard to find beans, beans I've heard of but never seen anywhere, beans I've never heard of- more than you can imagine. A few other products are offered, as well- like tortillas and spicy salsas, but Ric and I went straight for the legumes- Scarlet Runners, Flageolet, Cranberry Beans, Limas and speckled Christmas Limas, Black Calypsos, Yellow Eyes- well, you get the idea. I'm sure I'll be trying bean recipes for months to come, but for now, I offer you my Pasta e Fagioli- Pasta and Beans.
I often made a quick version of this dish with canned cannellni beans for dinner when I lived in New York. And okay- I don't have an Italian grandmother, so this may not be quite authentic, but it's definitely tasty nonetheless. Continue scrolling down, enjoy the pics and then on to the next page for the recipe...
Pasta e Fagioli
For the beans:
- 1 cup dried Cranberry beans*
- 3 tablespoons diced onions
- 2 tablespoons diced celery
- 2 tablespoons diced carrots
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1 sprig of parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- A healthy pinch of dried thyme
- Salt to taste
* Rancho Gordo advises that heir beans need minmal soaking. but I soaked these for a couple of hours, and I don't think they would have been hurt by a bit longer soak.
Add all the ingredients to the pot, except for the salt. Cover with water, to about an inch above the beans. Cook covered until they are tender, about 2 1/2 hours. I add the salt in the last half hour or so of cooking.
For the sauce and pasta:
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1/2 cup diced onions
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced canned tomatoes plus 3/4 cups liquid from the tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil, julienned
- The cooked beans
- Additional water, up to 1 cup
- A healthy punch of red pepper flakes
1 pound farfalle
- Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, then add the pancetta, onions and red pepper flakes cooking until onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
- Add the tomatoes and liquid, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon, simmer stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the beans and allow them to simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Add water as the sauce simmers and thickens. I added as much as a cup more of water. If you like, you may stir in a bit more olive oil as the sauce comes to the end of its simmering.
- While the dauce simmers, cook the farfalle in a large pot of boling, salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain.
- Add the rosemary and basil, then salt to taste.
- Serve the sauce over the farfalle. And don't forget to top the pasta with shaved Parmesan!