1½ cups dried navy beans or any small beans
¼ cup olive oil
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic
4 peeled carrots
3 stalks celery
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large can (800 g/28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
500 g (1 lb) shell macaroni
Chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
How to do it
1. The night before, soak the beans in 6 cups of water in a large pot.
2. The next day, add the ¼ cup olive oil, bay leaves, garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt to the pot and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the beans are tender (this can take from about 45 minutes up to 2 hours – it’s important to check and make sure they are cooked through.) Once they are cooked, drain the the beans and save the liquid for later use. Throw out the bay leaves and garlic.
3. Chop the carrots, celery and onion into small pieces and in a large skillet or wok, saute them in hot olive oil. Add the crushed garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and allow to saute until the carrots are tender (about 15-20 minutes).
4. Dice half of the tomatoes and add to the skillet. Cover and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni until just before al dente (about 1 minute less than recommended on the package). This is important as the macaroni continues cooking later on in the dish, and will soften further.
6. Dice the rest of the tomatoes. Add the vegetable mix, the macaroni and the rest of the tomatoes to the bean pot. Then add about 1½ cups of the bean liquid you set aside, as well as the juice from the tomatoes. Mix gently, add extra seasoning to taste, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Note: Save the remaining bean liquid for use in heating up any leftovers.
7. Pour into a large serving dish and garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese if you wish.
Serves about 8.