Here we are in the second week of the Lenten season and I almost didn’t have a clue what to make this week because we happen to be entertaining. I feel it’s important to share traditions with friends, religious or otherwise. This is how we learn about each other. I decided on a traditional Italian favorite. There are a lot of ethnic dishes that are just downright healthful, and frugal, of course. With the addition of a green salad and some crusty bread, this is a very filling meal. Our guest will not miss the meat.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth (from a can or your own)

4 cups water

1-2 tbsp olive oil (enough to saute the veg)

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped

1 cup carrots, sliced thin

1 tsp basil

4 tbsp parsley

pinch cayenne

2 cups whole plum tomatoes (squished with your hands)

1  6 oz can tomato paste

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry macaroni of your choice

salt and pepper to taste

grated parmesan cheese

Saute veggies in olive oil until they are soft. Stir in tomato products, garlic, herbs, cayenne, broth, water and beans. Simmer for 30 minutes or until all flavors are well combined. You can make ahead at this point and add the pasta and rewarm before serving. If not making ahead, bring to a boil and add pasta. Cook until pasta is tender using pasta directions as a guide. Serve with grated parmesan cheese. Serves 6.