Fall and winter are the season for comfort foods. And since I've been giving you soup after soup recipe, I thought it might be time for something a little different. PASTA! I realize now that I so rarely cook with pasta anymore. Well, I occasionally cook up some pasta and throw a little tomato sauce on it - but that's nothing to write home about. The name of the recipe is actually Whole Wheat Pasta with Beans, Greens, Pancetta, and Garlic Bread Crumbs. I have of course shortened it due to time constraints. This recipe comes from Cooking for Two: 2009, it's an America's Test Kitchen cookbook. ATK is probably the best group of cooks out there. I love their cookbook because they always explain the trial and error process that it took to get this recipe right. I thank them for doing all the work for me!
Word to the wise... don't wait till 8:00 PM to throw this meal together. Or you wont get to eat until 8:50-9:00. This isn't a meal you throw together, it takes some time. Remember, you gotta prep the greens and that means removing the stems, soaking the grit off, and then chopping it up. However, I think it would be a great meal to cook for someone you want to have a nice evening of conversation with. I didn't drink wine, but this meal definitely was calling for it.
I followed the recipe exactly. The only substitutions I had to make were for the fontina cheese and pancetta. I couldn't find Fontina at Publix, so I just used some asagio that I had in my fridge. And why buy pancetta when I have perfectly good bacon in my frdige. It was still delicious. I liked how there was no "sauce", but it was still moist and flavorful. I also poured out some of the bacon fat, because there was a lot leftover. I used about 4 slices, next time I might just use two. Because you actually don't ever put the pancetta/bacon back into the dish. I just ate them while I finished cooking. It was 8:30 and I was starving. This dish gives two very generous servings. I had no time wolfing down half of it (cause remember, beans and greens are not that heavy). However, it could easily be stretched out to three servings if you serve it with a nice sized salad and dessert.
What's your favorite winter pasta (or just pasta) dish? Please share in the comments section. Or just stop by and tell me hi! I like to know who is reading.
Pasta with Beans and Greens
1 slice high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/4 cup)
1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 large bunch of kale or collard greens, stems trimmed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti (See note)
3/4 cup drained and rinsed canned cannellini beans
2 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 Pulse the bread in a food processor to course crumbs, about 7 pulses. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the garlic and continue to cook until the bread crumbs are dark golden brown, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a small bowl. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and pancetta to the skillet and cook over medium heat until the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a small bowl, leaving the fat in the skillet. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons garlic and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the greens to the pan and toss with tongs until they begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, cover, and simmer, tossing the greens occasionally, until they are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
4 Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt, and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
5. Stir in the beans into the greens and let warm through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the greens mixture and fontina to the pasta and toss to combine, adjusting the sauce consistency with the reserved cooking water as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve, sprinkling individual portions with bread crumbs.