Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pasta With Beans and Greens

I had never tried pairing pasta with beans as a main dish until earlier this year. (Pasta e fagioli, if you're feeling fancy.) But when I saw a few versions while cookbook browsing, I was intrigued.

Together, the grains and beans are a complete protein source, making it a tidy meatless meal.

It's a simple two-pot dish. In one pot, cook up some chunky pasta, some shape that can hold its own against the beans. We picked orecchiette, which looks like adorable wee turtle shells. The name actually means "small ear," but the thought of a bowl full of ears squigs me out. I'm sticking with turtle shells.

Meanwhile, get some garlic and onions going in a skillet.

Add chopped greens and cook, covered, for a few minutes. Add beans and basil and cook for a few minutes more.

Toss with the pasta and squeeze a lemon over it all to counter the bitterness of the greens. Although the recipe didn't call for it, we added a little grated Parmesan.

The kids were smitten with the orecchiette. "It's helmets, Mama! Little construction helmets! Like Bob the Builder," said The Boy. "Hats!" cried The Girl. But they diligently picked over every single bean and bit of kale on their plates, so it was kind of a failure in that regard. The new score: me: 1; kale: 1.

The Husband and I gave it a B. Although I liked the touch of lemon in this recipe, we have a version that uses tomatoes that I like better. But it was worth a try.

Recipe below; printable version here.


1 cup chopped onions
5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb. fresh greens, such as chicory, endive, escarole, or mizuna, rinsed and chopped
3 cups cooked Roman, pinto, kidney or pink beans (two 15-oz. cans, drained)
½ cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 lb. short chunky pasta, such as ditalini, tubetti, or orecchiette
salt and ground black pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon

Bring a large covered pot of water to a boil for cooking the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or a nonstick sucepan on low heat, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the greens and 1 cup of water. Increase the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beans and basil and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash some of the beans right there in the pan; add more water if the sauce is too thick.

Meanwhile, when the water comes to a boil, add the pasta, stir, and cover the pot until the water returns to a boil. Stir the pasta and cook, uncovered, until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss it with the beans and greens. Add salt and pepper to taste and squeeze on some lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

From Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites

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