Pašta fažol is by far Croatia’s most popular dish. Locals call this hearty dish grah, but they don’t include pasta. This rich soup is a soul-warmer, which you can serve as an appetiser or as the main meal with fresh, crusty bread. The secret ingredient is the pancetta or bacon fat and garlic paste.
- 500g canned beans (cannellini or borlotti)
- 200g smoked pork shanks or ribs
- 2 litres water or beef stock
- 200g brown onions, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 150g smoked flat pancetta, or bacon, with lots of white fat
- 6 garlic cloves
- 100g pasta, penne or small tubetti
Drain the beans, place in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain the water from the pan. Don’t season the beans yet.
In another large saucepan, put the pork shanks, water or stock, vegetables, tomato paste and the pink meat trimmed from the bacon or pancetta. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for one hour until the vegetables are soft.
Meanwhile, finely chop the white fat part of the bacon or pancetta and blend it in a food processor with the garlic to make a smooth paste.
After the soup has been cooking for one hour, remove the pancetta meat and pork bones, and add the blanched beans, garlic and fat paste. Simmer for another 30 minutes until the beans are soft and starting to break up.
If you want to thicken the soup, scoop out a couple of cups of the soup (including vegetables and meat), blend in a food processor, then return to the pan before adding the pasta.
Add the pasta and cook for another five minutes, adding more water or stock, if necessary. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Recipe taken from Dalmatia by Ino Kuvacic
Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean on the edge of the dazzling Adriatic is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets – the spectacular Dalmatian coastline of Croatia. A region defined by the sea, rambling vineyards and olive groves, it is home to some of the country’s most treasured dishes whose flavours are reminiscent of Greek and Italian food, but with an identity of their own. The cuisine of Dalmatia has a unique story to tell. Its simple, honest food has evolved from the region’s rich history and many cultural influences. At its core, it is frugal but inventive, with interesting flavours and ingredients, such as silverbeet, prosek (Dalmatian fortified wine) and varenik (grape molasses). Ino Kuvacic captures the charm of his beloved native home and celebrates the food traditions, hospitality and signature purity of this magical place.
You can purchase Dalmatia at cooked.com.
Published by Hardie Grant Books.