This classic Pasta e Fagioli is the ultimate simple comfort food! Tender beans, noodles, and fresh veggies come together for a filling soup-pasta hybrid.
Happy Wednesday, friends! I am so excited to be sharing this recipe for Traditional Pasta e Fagioli with y'all. This post today has a special theme, and it's not just a silly food holiday as usual! September is actually Hunger Action Month, a time to bring awareness to how incredibly prevalent food insecurity is. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure in 2017. That’s 40 million people – more than 12 million of which are children – with a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. I was absolutely shocked when I read the numbers. I know I am so very lucky to have enough ~disposable~ income to be able to experiment with recipes and make extravagant meals from time to time, but it is so sobering to realize that so many people barely have enough to get a single, simple meal on the table.
This whole event was organized by Kate of Kate's Recipe Box, so a huge thank you to her for bringing some awareness to his very important cause! The average daily allotment for SNAP (essentially "food stamps") is $4.15 per person. This event is meant to acknowledge the difficulty of feeding a family on a SNAP budget and highlight organizations that help reduce hunger in our communities. The challenge is to create a meal to feed 4 people while spending $5.50 or less (total, not per person). A family of 4 receives roughly $16.60/day - which split evenly comes out to $5.50 per meal. If that is not a big reality check, I don't know what is. How much do you spend on your groceries? I know I spend much more than this because trying to budget and pinch pennies for this recipe was a big challenge. I have so much respect for those who have to do this each and every month!
When brainstorming for this event, I figured that the easiest and cheapest way to feed a crowd is usually with pasta, and being vegan, well, beans were a must! Not my beloved canned beans, but dry beans, which are much more budget friendly. I actually consulted my mamma on how to make pasta e fagioli because I had never made it before! She told me just how my bisnonna (great-grandmother) used to make it back in the day, so you know this recipe is authentic! She did give me some tips and tricks to make it tastier if the budget allows, as well. I made the recipe and ended up with like... 10-12 servings! LOL. So I am halving the recipe to better fit the "dinner for 4" theme, and so you don't have to deal with leftovers for days and days and dayyysss like we did! Not that leftovers are a bad thing, but you can eat the same thing for only so many days before you get sick of it!
So, what is pasta e fagioli? Very simple - it literally translates to "pasta and beans"! Quite self explanatory 🙂 Here is my ingredient/receipt breakdown for you... I originally used more or less ONE of everything for this giant batch, so by halving it, you also half the cost. You then have ingredients to make it again another time!
Here are my pasta e fagioli cost calculations -
- 1 lb box of pasta @ $1 - you only need ½ of the box for this recipe, so the cost is $0.50
- 1 lb bag of small red beans @ $1.49 - using ½, cost is $0.75
- 1 small onion @$0.53 - using ½ = $0.27
- Celery bunch @ $1.49/each (about 1.5lbs) - I used 2 stalks, which weighed 3.5oz = $0.22
- Roma tomatoes @ $0.99/lb - 1 tomato weighed 3.8oz = $0.24
- Garlic @ $0.50/head - I used 3-4 cloves, so guesstimating around $0.15
- 1 box of bay leaves (Kroger brand) @ 2.99 - using 1 leaf is maybe $0.05-0.10??
- Package of 6 vegetable bouillon cubes @ $0.99 - 1 cube = $0.17
- Salt & pepper - didn't add in to the cost as I am assuming everyone already has these. If it needs to be purchased, a twin pack S&P is $1.67
- Bonus ingredient - olive oil! A drizzle of olive oil before serving is the perfect finishing touch. A 16.9 oz bottle of Kroger brand EVOO will set you back $3.99. The cost per tablespoon will be $0.12.
- Bonus ingredient two - a bunch of fresh parsley, which costs $0.79/bundle. Fresh herbs do make a big difference if you have the wiggle room in your budget! Using some fresh leaves and stems in this recipe will set you back around $0.20.
SO - grand total cost for four servings of pasta e fagioli is $2.60!! If you add in 2 tablespoon of olive oil (½ tablespoon drizzled on each bowl), then the cost goes up to $2.84. So overall it seems like a great win!! However, do consider that if someone is having to buy all these things at the store, then the bill is $15.64. I did include the S&P and olive oil in this total if we are assuming someone has absolutely nothing to start. Do a lot of these ingredients have leftovers that can then be used in other recipes? Yes. But still! It's a humbling reality check.
All of the meals below were made with a budget of $5.50 – the average amount a family of four would have for a meal on a SNAP budget. We’re sharing these recipes today to show you how far these dollars go – or don’t go – and to encourage you to donate to organizations addressing hunger issues. Feeding America and local food banks are the boots on the ground helping feed your neighbors daily.
As a group, we’re supporting Feeding America’s efforts to end hunger. We are collecting donations for Feeding America here: http://help.feedingamerica.org/goto/FoodBloggers
Will you forgo your morning coffee stop and donate $5 to help feed the needy instead? There are also many great local organizations in DFW fighting hunger too, including North Texas Food Bank, Hunger Busters, Dallas Resource Center Food Pantry, and Tarrant Area Food Bank.
Hunger Action Month Recipes
- Kielbasa and Vegetable Skillet from Kate's Recipe Box
- Italian Sausage Alfredo Tortellini from Intelligent Domestications
- Budget Beef Vegetable Lo Mein from Palatable Pastime
- Veggie Burrito Bowls from Simple and Savory
- Cheesy Black Bean Frittatas from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
- Creamy Spinach & Black Bean Falutas from Savory Moments
- Mindful Shopping, Cooking Frugally, and Helping Others from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Feed a Family of Four for One Day in under $16 from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Bean Pasta) from The Baking Fairy
- Sausage Green Bean Alfredo from Cookaholic Wife
- Sheet Pan Crustless Quiche from Frugal & Fit
- Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet with Buttered Rice from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
- Chicken Caesar Pasta from Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
- Stove-Top Chicken Noodle Soup from Blogghetti
- Pepper Jack Quiche with a Potato Crust from Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
- Broccoli Mac Kielbasa Casserole from A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
- Chicken and Veggie Goulash by The Foodette & Family
I hope you guys found this post interesting!! I find it so important to raise awareness to issues like this, especially as someone who works with kids every day. A lot of the children I see are insured under Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP, so it's probably not a stretch to imagine that at least some are also on SNAP. Everyone deserves warm, delicious meals to fill their bellies!!
Here are some of my other favorite cheap recipes!
- Spaghetti Aglio Olio & Peperoncino
- Creamy Vegan Kale & Chickpea Spaghetti
- French Bread Pizza
- Creamy Black Bean Soup
- Vegan Roasted Ratatouille Sheetpan Meal
- BBQ Chickpea Tacos
- Slow Cooker French Onion Soup
- ½ lb dried small red beans
- ½ lb small pasta (I used ditalini)
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped (about ¼ cup)
- ½ white onion, diced (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2-3 fresh parsley stems
- 1 vegetable bouillon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- to serve - olive oil and fresh parsley leaves
- First, you must soak your dry beans. Place your small red beans in a large bowl, and completely cover with water + 1-2 extra inches. Set aside overnight so they can rehydrate.
- The next day, your beans are ready to use! Dump the water out, and rinse the beans well.
- Add the beans to a large cooking pot, and mix in the diced celery, onion, tomato, and garlic.
- Cover all ingredients with water, and heat over medium until water starts to boil.
- Place the lid on the pot, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 40-45 minutes, until beans are soft.
- At this point, add in the salt, pepper, and vegetable bouillon (mama says to add at this point to avoid having tough beans) to taste.
- Add in the pasta (+ any extra water if needed), and cook according to package directions. Add a little more salt if necessary!
- Divide the pasta e fagioli into 4 bowls, and top with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh parsley leaves, and an extra crack of black pepper. Enjoy!