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Pairings: Pasta fagioli and Barbera d'Alba

February 18, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • Lunch on a cloudy day: pasta fagioli
Lunch on a cloudy day: pasta fagioli (S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles…)

Cloudy day, just a little damp. Of course, I had to make pasta fagioli for lunch.

This time, I opted not to puree the beans, so I had a wonderful broth studded with pancetta, fat brown beans, and bits of carrot, celery and tomato. For the pasta, I used some Rustichella d'Abruzzo dried fettucine I had in the pantry, broken into short lengths.

Garnished with freshly ground black pepper, a swirl of Tuscan olive oil and a sparse grating of Parmigiano, a bowl of pasta fagioli makes a wonderful lunch with a glass of Barbera. I like its bright acidity and velvet texture against the earthy beans. I happened to have a very fine Barbera to open that day, the Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba “Cascina Francia,” from the great 2009 vintage.

Some people might think this is too good a wine for a simple bowl of bean soup. In a way, that’s the point. The soup, with its direct, unembellished flavors, allows the Barbera to shine. There’s something wonderful about the way the alternate sips—soup, wine, soup—give a sense of well-being and balance. I finished off my glass with a green salad straight from the garden.


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