Pasta with greens and beans is a classic combination in Italian cuisine, satisfying the heartiest of appetites.
You can vary this dish of pasta with different beans and greens each time you make it. Of course, you can vary the kind of pasta used as well. Give the dish a traditional Tuscan touch with a few raisins, or a briny lilt with olives or sun-dried tomatoes.
Some suggested greens to use: My favorite leafy green to use in this dish is green or rainbow chard, but curly or lacinato kale work well, too. If you enjoy bitter greens, this dish is lovely with broccoli rabe, too. All you need for a complete meal is a colorful salad.
Serve with a salad and a side of polenta: Rounds of pan-grilled polenta is a tasty addition to this meal. You can even make them into mini-pizzas.
Use an 18-ounce tube of polenta; cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds, and cook on a non-stick skillet or griddle sprayed with cooking oil spray, about 5 minutes on each side. Top with marinara sauce, if you’d like, and a sprinkling of mozzarella-style nondairy cheese. Arrange on a platter and heat briefly in the microwave until the cheese is melted.
Recipe adapted from Plant Power by Nava Atlas.
- 10 to 12-ounce bunch greens, any variety (see variations)
- 16 ounces pasta (any short, chunky shape)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds diced ripe tomatoes (see Note)
- 15-ounce can beans, drained and rinsed; see variations
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley or basil, or a combination)
- 1/3 cup raisins, chopped olives, or sliced sun-dried tomatoes
- Dried hot red pepper flakes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cut the leaves of the greens away from the stems, and discard (unless using chard; you can slice them thinly and include in the dish). Chop the greens coarsely and rinse well.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente, then drain.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in an extra-large saucepan or steep-sided stir-fry pan. Add the onions and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the greens with about 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook just until the greens wilt down, stirring once or twice, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, beans, and cook just until everything is well heated through, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Stir in raisins, olives, or dried tomatoes.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce in a large serving bowl. Stir together, then season to taste with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. If you’d like, drizzle in some extra olive oil. Serve at once.
Possibly the most traditional kind of leafy green used for this dish is chard (green, Swiss, or rainbow). Kale (curly or lacinato) works well too. Spinach is always welcome, though note that it wilts down much quicker. If you enjoy mildly bitter greens, try escarole or broccoli rabe. Here are some greens and beans pairings that I enjoy:
- Chard with chickpeas, cannellini, red, or pink beans
- Spinach, chard, or kale with chickpeas
- Navy beans or cannellini with escarole or broccoli rabe
Substitute a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes if good, fresh tomatoes are unavailable. Try fire-roasted tomatoes for extra flavor!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 523Total Fat: 7gSodium: 273mgCarbohydrates: 100gFiber: 16gProtein: 23g
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Photos by Hannah Kaminsky