Todd Wilbur, author of the best-selling book series “Top Secret Recipes," provides a copycat recipe of Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli. Traditionally a meatless pasta and bean stew, Olive Garden's recipe includes ground beef.
Begin by browning 1 pound of ground beef in a large pot over medium heat. Drain most of the fat from the pot. Add 1 small diced onion, 1 large julienned carrot, 3 stalks of chopped celery and 2 cloves of minced garlic, and saute for 10 minutes. Stir in 2 14.5-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, 1 15-ounce can of red kidney beans with the liquid, 1 15-ounce can of great northern beans with the liquid and 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce. Also add 12 ounces of V8 juice and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of basil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.
Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour. During the last 10 minutes of cook time, boil 1/2 pound of ditali, a tiny tube-shaped pasta, until al dente. Drain the pasta, and then add it to the pot of stew. Continue simmering for another five to 10 minutes. This recipe makes eight servings.