Pasta and beans (pasta e fagioli) is a well-known combination in Italian cuisine. I added greens because winter temperatures give kale, collards, and Swiss chard a kiss of sweetness that is difficult to resist. Use any beans that you enjoy: Cannellini beans are the standard, but I used black runner beans.
I prefer a pressure cooker because the bean-cooking process is faster, but you can cook the beans in any pot with a tight-fitting lid. To quick-soak dried beans, put the beans in a glass measuring cup, cover with several inches of boiling water, and let them soak on the counter for an hour or more. The fresher the dried beans, the shorter the soaking and cooking time (see my previous post about beans). To use canned beans in this recipe, add the beans when you add the greens.
My household prefers a strong hit of garlic and ginger, which is why I add them late in the process. If you like a milder flavor, add them earlier so they cook longer.
- extra-virgin olive oil
- onion, sliced in thin half-moons
- dried beans, soaked, drained, and rinsed
- brown-rice or other gluten-free penne pasta
- jalapeño chile
- tomatoes, coarsely chopped, or canned tomatoes
- garlic cloves, minced
- fresh ginger, minced
- kale, collards, or Swiss chard, center stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped and washed
- herbes de Provence
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker or a large pot. Add the onion and cook until just starting to brown. Add beans with water to cover by an inch or so. If using a pressure cooker, bring to high pressure, cook for 7 to 10 minutes, run cold water over the pot before opening the lid, then check to see if beans are soft—if not, continue cooking the beans on the stovetop. If using a pot, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until beans are soft.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 or 2 cups of pasta-cooking water.
- Add jalapeño and tomatoes and cook until vegetables are soft. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add greens and herbes de Provence and cook, stirring, until greens are soft, 1 or 2 minutes.
- Stir in the pasta a cup at a time to match the greens and beans in volume. Add reserved pasta-cooking water, if needed, to create the consistency you like. Adjust seasonings and serve.