White beans become very creamy when you mash them a bit so it is easy to turn them into instant sauce for pasta. I have “beefed” up the sauce with roasted red peppers and olives from the pantry but you could add any other handy pantry items such as marinated artichoke hearts, or canned tuna, or just toss in some leftover vegetables or meat from the fridge.
Recommended side dishes: green salad and crusty bread
Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 10
Total preparation time: 20
1 pound linguine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced ( about 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 2/3 teaspoon dried
1 ½ cups drained bottled roasted red peppers, cut into strips
One 15 1/2-ounce can white beans such as cannellini, navy or Great Northern, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted chopped kalamata olives
2/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about ½ cup)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the linguine in the boiling water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes; drain, reserving 1 ½ cups liquid.
2. While the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and cook 1 minute. Add the peppers, white beans,olives and broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Coarsely mash the sauce with a potato masher or fork.
3. Add as much of the reserved cooking liquid to the sauce as necessary to reach a creamy consistency. Add the linguine to the sauce and stir well. Stir in the Parmesan and additional cooking liquid if desired. Serve right away
Rules for cooking pasta
- Cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water (this eliminates excess starch on the pasta)
- Make sure you salt the water well; the pasta will not absorb the salt after it is cooked
- Stir the pasta as soon as you put it in the pot so it does not stick together
- Do not add oil to the pasta cooking liquid; oil will make the sauce slide off the pasta
- Do not make the pasta wait for the sauce; the pasta will become gummy and stick together if you do
- Do not rinse the pasta; if you do the sauce will slither right off
- Save some of the pasta cooking liquid to add to the sauce
- Undercook the pasta slightly and add it to the skillet to finish cooking, along with some of the pasta cooking liquid (the starch in the liquid will help to bind it to the sauce). The pasta will absorb some of the sauce as it finishes cooking and will have much more flavor than if you just plopped the sauce on top.