From the kitchen of Siobhain Klawetter
In my family and circle of friends, this dish is simply referred to as "pasta with white bean sauce" and the mere mention sharpens our appetite and brings on a chorus of positive exclamations. A deceptively simple, peasant-like dish, it has the ability to please just about anyone, with little modification. At its most simple form in the recipe below, it is completely vegan. Exchange the regular pasta for a gluten-free variety, and you take care of your celiac friends as well. Feel free to experiment and add ingredients you may have on hand. (Swiss Chard is a favorite addition in our house.) Serve with a simple green salad for a satisfying, healthy, and quick meal on a cold night.
2 TBSP olive oil for the pan
1 cup shallot and/or sweet yellow onion, diced
1 cup celery, small dice
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 cups vegetable stock, heated pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning or 1 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped
2 cans (approx. 3 cups) cooked cannellini beans*
salt (if needed) to taste
1 cup fresh basil, torn and firmly packed
1 medium tomato, diced small for garnish (optional)
fresh ground pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
1 box of your favorite pasta
Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.
Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan and add the shallots and/or onion. Sauté gently for several minutes, then add the celery. After the celery becomes translucent, add the garlic and bay leaf, and continue sautéing for another minute. Add the hot vegetable stock to the pan along with the red pepper flakes and Italian herbs. Put your beans in a sieve and rinse well under cool water, then add to the stock. Leave the pan uncovered to gently simmer and reduce while you put the pasta in to cook.
Cook your pasta according to the directions. The cooking time is generally just enough for sauce to come together. The beans will absorb much of the flavor from the stock and herbs while it simmers. If your stock was salted, you may find that you do not need to add any additional salt, otherwise, salt to taste. When the pasta is ready, turn off the heat on the bean sauce and immediately stir in the torn basil leaves. If the sauce has thickened too much, add water, a little at a time, until it is a nice consistency.
Plate the pasta and ladle the bean sauce over it. Garnish with diced fresh tomato, fresh ground pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.
*Great Northern and navy beans may be used interchangeably with cannellini beans in this recipe.