Pasta With Beans and Greens

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Pantry and budget-friendly meals are always good to have in your cooking repertoire. This recipe, which features humble ingredients but standout flavor, is a great example. Beans and greens are a classic pairing in Italian peasant cuisine (as well as in many other cuisines from around the world), known as cucina povera (“poor cuisine”).

Brothy cooked-from-dried beans and wilted hearty greens like Tuscan kale or chard, which can last for a long time in the fridge, together create dishes that are simple, quick, filling, and healthy. They can be served as a soup or stew, cooked down to a drier consistency to use as a topping for crusty grilled bread, or, in this case, combined with starchy pasta cooking water for a creamy, noodle-coating sauce.

Like most bean-centric dishes, you’ll achieve the best flavor results using cooked dried beans along with the flavorful cooking liquid that canned beans fail to deliver. However, you can always use canned beans and store-bought stock instead, if you don’t have the time or dried beans required for making a batch o’ beans from scratch.

This pasta starts with garlic and anchovies, gently cooked in olive oil with a sprinkling of dried chilies for background heat. The anchovies give the sauce savory depth that you won’t be able to discern in the finished dish but unequivocally make for a better sauce as we found in side-by-side tests. A splash of white wine lends sweet acidity before the beans are simmered to a saucy consistency.

The dish comes together with the addition of torn-up kale, short tubular pasta (we love paccheri for this sauce), and a healthy ladleful of starchy pasta cooking that all get cooked together with the beans until the greens are lightly wilted, and the noodles are al dente and perfectly coated in sauce. A sprinkling of salty, funky Pecorino Romano ties everything together for a comforting pasta easy enough for any weeknight but delicious enough to grace a table even on special occasions.

Published at Thu, 09 Apr 2020 13:00:57 +0000