White bean and artichoke heart pasta (4-6 servings)

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Once again, we're in that awkward time of year where it's not quite warm enough for an abundance of local produce, yet -- let's face it -- we're all tired of potatoes and soup and other cold-weather foods. I will report that I was delighted (seriously, I think I audibly squealed, albeit softly) when I saw local strawberries in Whole Foods today. They weren't the greatest strawberries I'd ever tasted, but still, they were available a month and a half earlier than I ever got them in PA! That fact alone was worth celebrating.

Anyway, for the most part, I've still been relying on pantry staples for my recipes lately. This particular recipe comes from Godtopus Eats, a blog my cyber-buddy Sara occasionally contributes to. It's filling, intriguing, and it's got plenty of protein. Below is a halved version of the original recipe; I used her specified quantities tonight, not knowing how much it would make, and ended up begging friends over Facebook to take some so it wouldn't go to waste. Definitely use the quantities below if you're cooking for just two people.

You will need:

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced (feel free to use a food processor for both the onions and garlic)
  • 1 7.5-oz can marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted tomatoes and I recommend you do the same! They impart a deep, slightly smoky flavor into the rest of the dish.)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lb dried pasta (I used a combination of medium shells and penne because I had a partial box of each to use up.)

Steps:

  1. Start a stockpot full of water boiling for the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, rimmed skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until they're soft (which was close to 10 minutes for  me).
  3. Lightly drain the artichoke hearts, leaving about half the liquid in the jar. Once the onions and garlic are softened, add the artichokes, undrained tomatoes, dried herbs, and some black pepper to the skillet. Cover and let simmer while the pasta cooks. (I think my sauce simmered for a total of about 20 minutes because my stovetop is ridiculously slow in bringing water to a boil.)
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to stockpot.
  5. Pour the sauce over the pasta and add in the beans. Toss gently to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkling with parmesan cheese if desired.

I loved, loved, loved this recipe. As Sara points out in the original recipe, it's a very adaptable one too. She sometimes switches up the point at which she adds the beans, and she's experimented with different types of pasta, too. She has also substituted broccoli for the artichoke hearts, although I think I'd miss them too much!

The only ingredient whose quantity I didn't halve was the beans. Who uses half a can of beans? I don't think it's a big deal to use a whole can, even for 4-6 servings. This recipe is vegan as long as you don't add the cheese at the end.