I have been obsessed with white beans as of late. No explanation…I just want them, all the time. Also, tuna. No idea why.
Luckily, Smitten Kitchen delivered and we whipped up this dish for dinner last week. She mentioned that it makes enough to feed a couple starving armies…so we halved the recipe and still had plenty of leftovers for lunches during the week!
Ditalini Pasta & White Beans with Garlic Rosemary Oil
½ medium onion, cut into big chunks
½ medium carrot, in big chunks
½ celery stalk, in big chunks
3 garlic cloves, 2 left whole, 1 finely chopped
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
¼ cup olive oil, divided
Coarse or kosh salt
1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 15-ounce can small white beans (such as Great Northern or Cannelini), rinsed
½ pound short tube pasta we used Ditalini
½ tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Pulse onion, carrot, celery, whole garlic cloves, parsley, and red pepper flakes (to taste) in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat 4 tbsp. oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and add vegetable mixture to pot. (Quickly rinse, but no need to fully wash, food processor as you’ll use it again shortly.) Season generously with salt. Cook, stirring from time to time, until vegetables take on a bit of color, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook it into the vegetables for another minute. Add 1 cup water and use it to scrape up any bits stuck to the pot. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add beans and 2 more cups of water to the pot and simmer until the flavors meld, about another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente, or still a little firm inside.
Reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water from your drained pasta.
Transfer one cup of the bean mixture to your rinsed food processor and purée it until smooth, then stir it back into the sauce to thicken it. Add drained pasta and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to bean sauce and cook the mixture together, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until the sauce coats the pasta, about 1 to 2 more minutes.
To serve: Heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a tiny saucepan over medium-low heat with garlic and rosemary, until sizzling stops. Divide pasta between serving bowls and drizzle garlic-rosemary oil over each.
Next time we make this, we will wait until the very end to add in most of the beans as we found that we liked them a bit toothier and less mushy. And please, don’t underestimate how critical the garlic rosemary oil is at the end. I would even recommend making more of the oil for leftovers and dredging some crusty bread through it.
This is a great vegetarian hearty and filling dish despite looking a little bland. Who knows, next time I might go crazy and throw some lightly dressed arugula on top!