Wednesday, November 10, 2010

White Bean, Arugula and Olive Pasta

Monday was the last (I hope!) day of my full blown cold. It has now subsided to a mild case of the sniffles and will hopefully go away altogether soon. I sort of knew on Monday that I either needed to really take it easy and get better or I risked staying sick for much longer. So instead of my usual first day of the week business, I stayed home and did nothing. I didn't leave my apartment once - no errands, no gym, nothing. I absolutely needed this day to rest and recover as now I'm feeling much better. But despite my desire and need to stay on the couch all day, dinner time came around and we still needed to eat. Gavin was nice enough to offer to get take out but I really wasn't in the mood for a huge dinner of Thai food. So I decided to search through my fridge and pantry to see what I could come up with.

The resulting pasta dish used up what I had in the kitchen and actually tasted really good. Although this might not be a typical pasta dish, it combines ingredients that work great together in other dishes and uses flavors that compliment each other well. The dish was sweet, salty and peppery all at the same time. The olives mellow out when cooked and add a saltiness without overwhelming the dish. And the balsamic vinegar lends a sweetness that acts as a great counterpoint. If you don't like olives, as I know a lot of people who don't, you could easily leave them out and just go with the white beans and arugula. The beans add a hearty dose of fiber and protein while the wilted arugula gives a great peppery taste and acts as a salad all in the same dish. The only thing that really needs any cooking time is the shallot so the whole sauce is done in less time than it takes for a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta. Pasta dishes are a great way to use up leftovers so anytime you're looking for a quick meal, think about ingredients that go together in other dishes - like salads or dips - and mix them together with any type of pasta. Top with some Parmesan cheese and you're good to go, even if you couldn't make it off the couch to get to the grocery store.

White Bean, Arugula and Olive Pasta (serves 2)
  • 8 oz pasta, any variety
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot or small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 7-8 assorted olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 3-4 cups loosely packed arugula
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1 cup of cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Saute onions, seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
Add minced garlic and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Cook for another minute or two.
Stir in olives, white beans and red pepper flakes; cook till warmed through.
Turn heat off and stir in arugula, remaining tablespoon vinegar and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, to wilt arugula.
In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta with sauce. Season with salt and pepper, if needed, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Add a bit more cooking liquid if too dry.
Serve pasta garnished with more Parmesan if desired.

For a printable recipe click here

1 comment:

  1. Glad you're feeling better... Yummy food like this definitly always helps me no matter what the problem!