Mar 25, 2014

Rigatoni with Garlicky White Beans

So here we are several days into spring and I'm still cooking and craving winter foods. And why is that, you may very well ask? Because Mother Nature has decided to ignore the astronomical calendar and instead snow is predicted tonight. That's right, snow. At the end of March.

But instead of whining (or, at least to distract me from it), I've gotten back into the kitchen and revisited a delicious pasta and beans dish I adapted from Smitten Kitchen two months ago but never posted. This was the perfect occasion to remake it, perfect the pictures and write it up! This recipe is hearty and infinitely adaptable. You can use virtually any kind of pasta and any kind of bean. It's a great change of pace from tomato sauces and, even though it's vegan, it's definitely stick-to-your-ribs food. You can serve it with garlic-rosemary oil (instructions below), as we did the first night, but it's also delicious as is, reheated (or not) for leftovers. You can also swirl in a spoonful of pesto, homemade or from a jar. If you are eating peppers, I recommend a dash of red pepper flakes. And if you do want some meat, cook up an Italian sausage (sweet or spicy depending on your mood), chop it up and mix it in with the pasta. Leftovers also make a phenomenal soup. Bon appetit!

Pasta with Garlicky White Beans
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

In a food processor, chop together onion, carrots, celery, 5 cloves garlic, parsley and pepper. (Be careful -- it goes quickly from chopped to pureed.). In a heavy pot over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Add chopped vegetables and sprinkle with salt. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they color but don't burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Add tomato paste, stir, and cook 1 minute. Add water or vegetable broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer 5 minutes.

Add beans and 2 other cups water or vegetable broth. Simmer 15 minutes.

While beans cook, boil water and cook rigatoni according to package directions. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Once beans are cooked and tasty, take out 1 cup and add it, along with 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid, into food processor (no need to clean it in between uses!). Puree, then stir back into beans along with rigatoni. Mix well.

While waiting for everything to come together, remove rosemary leaves from stalk and crush remaining 3 cloves garlic. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat final 1/4 cup olive oil. Add garlic and rosemary and cook just until starting to color, 2 minutes. Pour hot oil over rigatoni in bowls. Enjoy!


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