A simple dish that is, at its heart, a comforting clean-out-the-fridge stew, pasta e fagioli, or pasta with beans, is perfect for a 5:30 Challenge makeover. The biggest challenge? Streamlining the recipe list and trimming prep time to allow the stew enough time to cook and develop flavor. Luckily, there are plenty of shortcut ingredients available at grocery stores that can help us do just that.
The main ingredients — beans and pasta — are easy. Choose a tender canned white bean, such as cannellini, and a small, quick-cooking (10 minutes or less) pasta shape for this recipe. You’ll keep all of the bean canning liquid to help create a flavorful broth for the pasta. For a vegetable base, I like to use a frozen bag of chopped vegetables with onions. Depending on the brand, the other veggies can be anything from carrots to peppers — use whatever you have handy. I also like to throw in some pre-chopped kale and a can of flavored diced tomatoes (choose one with garlic and Italian herbs) to round out the stew. None of these ingredients require any prep short of opening cans and pulling out measuring cups, so there’s plenty of time to let the stew simmer away.
I serve the stew topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of freshly grated Parmesan, but you can easily make the meal vegan by skipping the cheese. Either way, be sure to pull out some crusty bread for sopping up all of the flavorful broth.