CJ’s Pasta e Fagioli

At our restaurants we are guided by listening and learning from the stories of our team, particularly the ways our families, upbringings, and lineage have shaped the way we consider, source, prepare, and share food.

Our series Family Meal spotlights recipes from different members of our team that have — in some way — informed the way they cook today.

This week we’re sharing a recipe from Gjelina Group Project Manager CJ Capace, whose variation on pasta e fagioli represents the style of Italian comfort food made by her Grandma Jo, whose intuitive style and take on tradition influenced CJ’s own approach to considering how classic dishes find their place in our own stories. As CJ explains, “there is some version of this dish from every region of Italy. Pasta and beans. Simple. Hearty. Cheap. But Grandma Jo’s is the best.”

One of my earliest food memories is with my Grandma. I’m sitting on her kitchen counter peeling the skins from warm, blistered peppers. I was hopelessly in love. I never missed a chance to be in the kitchen while she was cooking. The rhythm of peeling and chopping garlic, frying eggplant, slicing medallions of fresh mozzarella, never forgetting to stir the sauce simmering on the back burner. Grandma’s apron goes on after her first cup of coffee and doesn’t come off until she’s sipping her sambuca after dinner.”

“Food is the blood of our family. It’s our love language; a common ground. And at the root of it all there is a force of strong women.”

“When my family moved from New York to Virginia, my Grandma made her routine visit every other month or so. She arrived by train with a piece of luggage filled entirely with food. Pounds of grated parmesan in ziplock bags because “it’s a sin what they charge down here,” chicken cutlets, rice balls from Aunt Kathleen, jars of sauce, pounds of salami sliced thin, “like paper.” If it was cheaper in New York or she knew you loved it, it was in there. Shells & peas for my brothers. Chicken soup for my sister. Pasta fazool for me.”

CJ’s Pasta “Fazool” aka Pasta e Fagioli Ingredients: Lots of garlic A small onion Cannellini beans Borlotti beans or kidney beans (I had Borlotti on hand, Grandma swears by Kidney) Chicken Stock Basil Salt & pepper


Finely chop the garlic and onion.

Add olive oil to a pot.

Cook the garlic and onion until translucent.

Blend a third of your cannellini beans with a bit of reserve liquid. Add your beans. Add the chicken stock and blended cannellinis.

Bring to a boil then cook for 30-40 minutes on medium, lid cracked slightly.

Stir occasionally. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Tear or chop a handful of basil and add it to the pot.

Serve with any small pasta (like elbows or ditalini).

Top with lots of grated pecorino or parmesan.