Beans and pasta? Does that sound like an unusual combination to you? Pasta e fagiole or pasta and beans is actually a traditional Italian combination. I used dried cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, and cooked them with a mirepoix which is chopped carrots, celery, and onion. I added a little bay leaf and oregano for an herby flavor.
Cannellini beans are typically found in minestrone. They are full and meaty and creamy. You can also use cannellini beans in a can and still achieve the same deliciousness. Or if you cannot find cannellini beans you can substitute great white northern beans.
I decided to use spinach with the pasta and beans but feel free to use any kind of leafy greens such as Tuscan kale or chard. Unlike many Italian pasta dishes, this pasta e fagiole does not have tomatoes.
Sautéing the spinach or kale in a little olive oil with sliced garlic before adding to the pasta brings out the aromas and flavors of the garlic and the spinach.
I recommend any type of short pasta such as bow tie, penne, or rigatoni for this pasta and bean recipe. I used bow tie pasta and cooked it until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water to stir into the bean and pasta mixture to make it creamy and moist.
You can serve this pasta and cannellini bean recipe as a side with fish, meat, or chicken or even with a stuffed or baked eggplant dish. I served it as a one-bowl main dish with a side salad. This is a healthy vegetarian one bowl main filled with protein and fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B 12. You can also make this gluten-free and use brown rice or other GF pasta. In any case, it is low fat, healthy, and tasty! Oh, don’t forget a sprinkle of parmesan cheese before serving.