Saturday, September 24, 2011

Slow Cooker Pasta Fagioli

The other day I was browsing crockpot recipes online and came across a blog by Stephanie O'Dea which features 365 days of Slow Cooking!  There are other fun things on her site like organizational tips and giveaways, but I zeroed in on the slow cooker recipes.  They seriously all looked fabulous.  Another bonus is that she has adapted her recipes for a gluten free lifestyle.  If you have a gluten free family, I highly recommend this site.

To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with the slow cooker.  I love the convenience, but I abhor food that has been cooked into near oblivion or tastes like a salt lick as so many crockpot recipes do.  However, coming across Stephanie's site inspired me because she had a variety of recipes and flavors that looked like real food and not just meat and gravy.

Somehow I narrowed my choices down to the recipe for Pasta Fagioli.  It looked super healthy- full of tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery and lean ground beef.  I followed the recipe to a "t" with the exception of tossing in a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic.  I just can't help myself with the garlic... It's a sickness.  You may want to adjust the Tabasco to your liking.  A tablespoon was a little hot at first, but mellowed out with the leftovers. Overall, the soup was amazing!  With parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, it tasted like liquid lasagne (in a good way).  Yumm...

I can't wait to cuddle up with a bowl of this on a cold night! 

Recipe
1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (and juice)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I might leave out next time.)
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups beef broth
1 jar (16.5 oz) pasta sauce
2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 c uncooked shell pasta (give or take)
  1. Brown ground beef and drain. In a large slow cooker combine beef and remaining ingredients (except pasta).  Cook 4 hours on high or 8+ hours on low.
  2. When veggies are tender you can add the desired amount of pasta.  If you're adding extra pasta, you may want to add a little more liquid to the soup.  Since we cannot eat all of this soup in one sitting, I cook my pasta separately until and add some to the individual servings.   If you try to refrigerate the leftovers with cooked pasta in them, the pasta will soak up the extra liquid resulting in dry soup and bloated pasta.
  3. Sprinkle individual servings with parmesan cheese.  Serve with my Hot Italian Sandwiches.

Source: Stephanie O'Dea
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