You should put beans in your pasta
It was so cold on the East Coast last week that I told myself I could eat whatever I want. Like a furnace, in sub-30° temperatures, I would just burn it off. (That’s how it how works, right?)
I wanted my pork and beans pasta.
Ever since I happened upon this dish a year ago, I keep coming back to it. Partly because it’s so damn easy. I swing by the market after work and grab two Italian sausages, a jar of cannellini beans (though, any canned white beans would do), and a bottle of puréed tomatoes.
I make the sauce in one big sauté pan, in not much time at all. First, I remove the sausages from their casings and brown the meat in some olive oil. Then in goes some smashed garlic, till gently browned. And then the beans.
Do you ever add beans to your pasta? You should try it. Canned or cooked from dried, they lend a creamy richness to your sauce that’s deeply satisfying.
After the beans and sausage and garlic have had a chance to hang out for a while and come to temperature, I hit the mixture with a splash of puréed tomatoes. Thanks to the creamy beans, the sauce turns an alluring pink, more vodka sauce than tomato sauce.
Finally, in goes a ladle of pasta water and a knob of butter. When the sauce is at a full simmer, I add the al dente pasta (about 8 oz., aka half a standard box or bag). Toss and toss, and finish with some grated Parm.
Photo by Alex Lau
When I’m in the mood for a “healthier” version of this pasta (liberal use of air quotes here), I’ll make Basically’s rigatoni with sausage, beans, and greens. Same technique, but I skip the tomato purée and throw in a large bunch of nutrient-rich kale, which gets all wilty and glossy and gorgeous.
If you make either of these pastas—and I highly suggest you do—you’ll realize that beans, even pantry-friendly canned ones, absolutely belong in your pasta arsenal. No matter the weather outside.