This is some slow, lazy, budget cooking. There was a chapter of my early adult diet that consisted entirely of lentils, rice, beans, and pasta with the occasional splurge on a nice block of cheese or some chicken. Luckily, these easily affordable foods are delicious and filling, and it’s easy to make a giant batch if you have an army to feed or just need to have dinner ready for yourself for the rest of the busy week.
SIMPLE BEANS AND PASTA
Adapted from The Little Bean Cookbook
1.5 cups dried pinto, pink, or cannellini beans
1 14 oz. can plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons salt
1.25 cups small pasta shapes
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Wooden spoon or spatula
Measuring cups and spoons
Garlic press (optional)
Immersion blender or standing blender (optional)
Pour the beans into the stock pot, cover with water, and let soak in the fridge overnight. Rinse and drain them well, then cover them with fresh water. Bring to a boil on the stove for 10 minutes, then rinse and drain them again!
Pour in enough fresh water to cover the cooked beans by 1 inch. Add in the chopped tomatoes and their juice, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper, and olive oil. Simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. You may need to add more water during the cooking process; keep it looking more like soup!
When the beans are just about done, remove the bay leaves. I like to make this dish a little saucier, so I stick an immersion blender into the pot and pulse it a few times. Alternately, you can remove half of the recipe and puree it in a standing blender, then return it to the pot. You can also just leave everything whole! It’s entirely up to you.
Add the broth and bring to a boil, then stir in the pasta and salt. (Those are not ice cubes! I make homemade stock and store it in ice cube trays until needed.)
As the pasta cooks, the water level will decrease from soupy to stew-y and then to perfectly casserole-y. (Of course, you can add more stock or water to have soup if you wish.) When the pasta is finished, serve topped with Parmesan.