pasta peas and beans

In  the summer we have the good fortune to pretend to be expats living in Rome, experiencing all the culinary delights Italy has to offer while suffering a few unpleasant side effects like heat wave attic living with no airconditioning and frustrating public transportation (still infinitely better than the USA, you can get nearly everywhere you need to go). And friends who don't believe in airconditioning, or fans, or even breezes flowing through their homes (eeks, bronchitis danger!) Buses that have pretend airconditioning. The old subway trains are in the same category. As you can tell, bob is heat sensitive. Tries to dress as cool as possible all season. Shorts, faithful ecco sandals (with white ankle socks, protects from blisters), super light cotton button up shirts. But our terrace is lifesaving. With an open piazza below us on the side of a hill  with the trees of a big Roman park sucking the air up through our rental, we are normally ventilated enough to survive comfortably. In which case terrace dining is possible. Mostly we've gotten too lazy to actually cook some of the great stuff we find in the local supermarkets, so aperativo time is more frequently, but a few times we get imaginative and produce some delicious dinner food. A one person kitchen so ani is head chef while bob does sous chef duties and contributes to the recipe creative thinking process.

We have been stuck on the mezzi rigatoni pasta shape for some time now, so here in Rome when we find whole grain versions, we tend to buy some in the hope we might one day find that inspiration needed to convert it into a dish we can be  proud of. Buckwheat pasta has long been in our reportoir for pizzocheri, including hands on pasta making in the USA where these are hard to come by, so when we spotted buckwheat (grano saraceno) mezzi rigatoni, they went into the shopping cart.We don't actually know if they are more healthy than regular pasta, but there seems to be a good possibility.

We had some frozen peas left over from a previous pasta experiment, a small can of borlotti beans (hard to find at home but everywhere here in Italy), fresh garlic, and of course parmigiano cheese. Combining beans and (healthy grain?) pasta makes a complete nutrition product, or something, whatever, we also go for taste if the nutrition police are not aligned with our needs. The result was very tasty and filling.

The one hard ingredient to find in the USA is radicchio pesto. Italian supermarkets offer a wide range of "exotic" (for us) pestos apart from the usual green basil pesto, and we enjoy experimenting with them. A summer favorite is radicchio pesto or radicchio and speck (ham) pesto. The radicchio variation is mild so a whole "little" Italian jar (around 190–200 g) is just right for  a pound or somewhat less pasta for two to four (six?) people.

ingredients (adapt quantities to target diner number)

enough mezzi rigatoni for 2
   (say 3 if you are hungry, the whole box if you want leftovers or need to feed more people)
extra virgin olive oil for sauteing
a few cloves of garlic, whole, to taste
190 g (6.7 oz) jar of radicchio pesto, substitutable by less basil pesto, or another mild pesto
a cup or so of frozen (better yet fresh!) peas
a small can of borlotti or cannellini beans
   (half the standard American size, but you can go with that for a pound of pasta)
1/2 c freshly grated parmigiano cheese to combine with the sauce, extra for the plated dish.


  1. Boil the pasta water. Add some salt. Then boil the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile while the pasta has a head start, saute a few cloves of garlic in olive oil till tender, then add the peas and beans to heat them up.
  3. Reserve some pasta water when draining the pasta.
  4. Combine with the sauce, add a bit of pasta water (use your judgement here) over heat to create the final sauce consistency.
  5. Remove from heat, add cheese.
  6. Serve. Add more cheese. Enjoy.


  1. Pizzoccheri!
  2. Pizzoccheri mano a mano.
  3. A typical radicchio pesto recipe.
  4. Some alternative pesto sauces in Italian supermarkets [Star Tigullio, Giuseppe Rana].
  5. Illustrations available.
pastapeasandbeans.htm: 10-aug-2019 [what, ME cook? � 1984 dr bob enterprises]