Thursday, June 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach and Cannellini Beans

Lately I've really been making an effort to incorporate more beans into my diet-they're a healthy, inexpensive, and delicious versatile pantry staple. I used to eat beans primarily in baked beans, chili, or soup but recently I've really discovered a love of beans in pasta, salads, and wraps. The nutty flavor of whole wheat pasta complements beans extremely well in this dish, the spinach keeps it light and fresh, and the Parmesan adds richness and saltiness. If you're not a fan of spinach, broccoli rabe or arugula would make excellent substitutions, chickpeas could stand in for the cannellini beans, and this dish can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock in place of chicken broth. Although it's not a culinary masterpiece, this is another tasty, nutritious, and easy-to-prepare dish for gathering the family around the table after a busy work day.

Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach and Cannellini Beans
adapted from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious
serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups canned unsalted chicken broth or vegetable stock
1 15 1/2-ounce can low-sodium cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
8 ounces fresh spinach
8 ounces whole wheat penne, freshly cooked
Salt and frshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add spinach by handfuls until wilted, then add cannellini beans and cook until beans are warmed through. Transfer spinach mixture to large bowl and add cooked pasta.  Season pasta with pepper and crushed red pepper, if using; sprinkle with grated Parmesan and toss well. Serve warm.

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