Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Feel Good Pasta

Yum. What a delicious dinner! I’ve always had a weakness for pasta and scorn people who complain about carbs. I know pasta gets a bad rap, but this one is light, and loaded with veggies, legumes, and healthy fats, like olive oil and pine nuts, not to mention flavor! Even though this pasta looks deceptively decadent, it is really good for you. Which is why I give you this fettuccine with cranberry beans, green beans, and pesto. Adding some stock to the pesto gives it a creamy smoothness that adds body to the whole dish. This dish is also open to a lot of substitution: white or kidney beans for the cranberry beans; spinach or arugula for the basil in the pesto; linguini or spaghetti for the fettuccine. So feel free to use what you have. Unless you’re baking, there’s no reason you can’t ditch ingredients that don’t appeal to you, and add in ones that do. For instance, I love the combination of green beans and pesto, so I added them in. Also, my cranberry beans had been previously cooked with carrots and bell peppers, so they’re in there too. Pasta is a very forgiving canvas that leaves itself open to a lot of improvisation. This dish is just the perfect thing when you’re craving a big bowl of noodles. And because there is no cheese, and not very much oil, you don’t have to feel guilty (or weighed down) about this carb-fest! So enjoy this guilt-free indulgence. It will warm you from the inside, and leave you feeling sublime.

1 cup dried cranberry beans
1 carrot diced
1 bell pepper diced
1 ½ cups packed basil leaves
1 clove garlic
¼ cup pine nuts
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
2 cups vegetable stock
3 cups green beans
1 pound whole wheat fettuccine
Salt and pepper

Rinse cranberry beans. Pour into a bowl and cover with water to an inch above the beans. Soak overnight. Drain the beans and put in a saucepan with water to two inches above the beans. Add carrot and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer 40 to 50 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

In a food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper and blend. While the processor is on, add two tablespoons olive oil. Taste for salt and pepper.

In a large sauté pan, add remaining two tablespoons olive oil and the onions. Cook until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the stock, beans, and green beans, and bring to a boil. Simmer until liquid is reduced by one-fourth.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the fettuccine and cook as directed. Drain.

Add the pesto to the bean mixture, then add the pasta and toss to combine. Add some chopped basil to the top. Serve, and enjoy, immediately!

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