Summer bounty: fresh beans and tomatoes over pasta
Ok, so it’s well into autumn, but that hasn’t stemmed my garden’s abundance of runner beans and tomatoes. Which is fine by me, because together they are wonderful. I’ve cooked runner beans or green beans with tomatoes for ages, but no dish was as stellar as this one. What took such a classic combination from tasty to stupendous? A hearty pinch of sugar, some lemon juice, onion and some white beans (haricot beans, in this case) that had been cooked with bay and garlic. Oh, and butter. Not enough so that it was obvious, just merely enough to add some richness.
Aside from being delicious from the sweet refreshing crunch of the beans and the tangy richness of the tomatoes and lightly caramelised onions, this dish has some maaajor selling points that make it such a keeper in my “quick dinner” repertoire:
- Not much messy washing up required – yes it’s a two pot meal, but both of them are easy to clean.
- All up this only takes about half an hour – 15 minutes prep if you’re taking your time, and 15 minutes cooking.
- With all those veges and beans, this is super easy to feel good about eating.
- This is super versatile. You can use green beans instead of runner beans, canned chopped tomatoes if you don’t have access to fresh roma or low-acid tomatoes, and you can add in some extra veges to bulk it all up. You can use any white beans, or even chicken, some bacon or pancetta, or omit the beans and sprinkle over some goats cheese/parmesan instead. If you don’t have fresh lemon, use red or white wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar. If you want to vary the flavour, you can try adding different herbs and spices. My favourites are smoked paprika, pitted kalamata olives, thyme, and basil (separately, not together). You can even serve it with different carbs: over well boiled potatoes, couscous, or rice. Hell, you can even treat it like a stew and serve with crusty bread.
Fresh beans and tomatoes over pasta
makes enough for 2 as a main addition to something carby. See point #4 for other ideas about varying the flavours in this
- a hearty handful/bunch of scarlet runner beans or green beans
- about 3c chopped roma or low-acid tomatoes (or 1 1/2-2 x 400g cans chopped tomato)
- 1 onion, finely diced
- about 1c cooked white beans of your choice (drained)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 garlic clove, well crushed (it should fall apart, but don’t worry about cutting it any further)
- about 1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- a few Tbs cooking oil
- juice of half a lemon, or a few Tbs white or red wine vinegar
- hearty pinch of sugar
- 20-30g butter
- 2 handfuls of pasta (something that will take about 10 minutes) and enough water to cover
Put water on to boil while prepping ingredients. Once water is rapidly boiling, add pasta. Heat oil in a medium/large saucepan on medium heat and add beans and onions. Let cook undisturbed for about 1 minute before stirring. Continue doing this until onions start going golden brown. Stir in butter, garlic and white beans, and cook another minute, not stirring after initially mixing in. Stir in salt, tomatoes and bay leaf, and let cook until the tomatoes start to emit juices. Stir in lemon juice and sugar, and let continue cooking until the liquids have reduced a bit, so that the beans are immersed in a thick sauce. Mmm. Taste, and season further with salt if needed. Remove from heat once cooked.
By now your pasta will probably be done, so drain, dish up, and then scoop the sauce over it. If your pasta is done before the sauce, drain but leave some water in the bottom. Then you can mix the drained pasta in with the sauce when it’s done. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil if you have some and grind over some black pepper, then devour.