Beans and pasta may seem like an odd combination, but it works. Consider the Italian classic pasta e fagioli with beans and macaroni. When I was first married we ate it a lot. It wasn’t until Lidia Bastianich had her show on PBS that I found out stirring a can of Campbell’s baked beans into prepared box macaroni was a poverty driven interpretation of the recipe. Pasta with roasted tomatoes and white beans is nothing like my honeymoon pasta. It’s an easy to prepare meal with minimal hands on time. There’s no meat in this preparation, making it a perfect choice for a Meatless Monday meal.
This pasta dish is based on one by Ellie Krieger, the current featured chef at I Heart Cooking Clubs. It’s loaded with sweet roasted tomatoes, garlic and spinach along with fat white beans. Even though it’s not orange, it tastes really good and the leftovers heat up well, too.
Despite it being so late in October, the markets have a lot of little cherry tomatoes in all varieties. I cut them in half for roasting and roasted an entire head of garlic at the same time. Four cloves were used to make the dish and the rest are currently enjoying an olive oil bath in the fridge while waiting their turn to be used.
Some of the comments on the original recipe indicated they found it to be bland as written. With that in mind, I increased the proportion of veggies to pasta and included more herbs for seasoning. I was unable to find fresh basil in the market so for a little green color I added a generous double handful of spinach.
- Cherry tomatoes, cut in half (about ½ pound)
- 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, parsley, thyme (adjust to suit)
- salt, pepper and red pepper flake to taste
- 2 cups cannellini beans or similar (I used something similar to butter beans)
- ½ pound penne pasta, cooked, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid
- 2 generous handfuls fresh spinach
- Grated Parmesan or other hard cheese to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 F
- Put the cut up tomatoes in a heat proof baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Season with the herbs and salt and pepper.
- Drop in the garlic cloves and roast until the tomatoes are soft and tender with a little caramelization, about 30 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the garlic and remove it early if needed. (I cut the top of an entire head and wrapped it in foil along with a good drizzle of olive oil)
- Remove and set aside until the pasta is ready. Peel the garlic and mince finely.
- Start a large pot of water boiling after the tomatoes have been in the oven for 10 minutes or so.
- Cook the pasta as directed.
- Meanwhile drain and rinse the beans and leave them in the colander.
- Reserve a cup of the cooking liquid and pour the rest of the pasta over the beans in the colander to warm them.
- Return the pasta to the cooking pot and stir in the roasted tomatoes, minced garlic, fresh spinach and the reserved cooking liquid.
- Transfer to a serving dish and grate Parmesan cheese over top.
You can make all sorts of variations on this recipe by swapping out various veggies and beans. Try roasted broccoli or pisto. Instead of white beans you could try garbanzos or pintos. You can even make it omnivore friendly by adding some sort of meat…you don’t need much so it’s perfect for using up leftovers. Have fun!