Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pasta with beans and greens

I traveled to the Piedmont region of Italy six years ago with a group of fellow students in order to study and document ancient stone building techniques. Overlooked by many, this northerly region combines the warmth of Italian hospitality with the crisp and clean simplicity of Switzerland. While there, we stayed in the small village of Canova - a collection of stone houses interconnected by stairways and alleys. Hosted by the husband and wife team who had renovated the medieval structures, we ate very well - hearty meals of pasta and fresh vegetables usually followed by espresso and little chocolate cookies. These days, when I want a quick but satisfying meal I copy a meal the lady of the house often served at lunch: Pasta with beans and greens.

When I make it in my kitchen I use whole wheat pasta (kamut, quinoa and spelt are nice as well). I find that these pastas don't weigh me down quite as much as traditional semolina pasta. I prefer a chunky shape to a noodle (rotini, penne or orecchiette). I alternate between using hearty greens (curly kale, collards, or rainbow chard) and other more "exotic" options (rapini, beet greens, or lacinato kale). Depending on what is in my crisper I will even make this pasta with something as simple as broccoli and peppers, as I did tonight. Regardless of the exact ingredients the recipe generally goes something like this:

Pasta with Beans and Greens

1 lb whole wheat pasta shapes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut in wedges
6 large cloves garlic cloves, minced
1 large bunch greens (curly kale is my favorite), loosely chopped
1 15oz can great northern or other white bean
1-2 tbsp red pepper flakes (depending on how much kick you like)
1 tbsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Boil water for the pasta and cook per instructions. Saute onion in 1 tbsp. olive oil till slightly cooked (2-3 min). add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and saute till onions are thoroughly cooked. add chopped kale and cook until just wilted. add beans, toss together and heat until beans are heated through. salt and pepper to taste.

When pasta is cooked strain and rinse with cold water. Put in a large bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper pasta to taste. Add beans and greens, as well as the grated Parmesan. Toss until combined. Serve with crusty bread and a hearty red wine.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

just made this for lunch with pea greens (and added vegan meatballs). yum! i really like the red onion (before now, i'd usually use a yellow onion for something like this). i think i should have added the white beans earlier so they could soak up more of the flavor. love your recipes! where's pumpkin ravioli? :)