Shell Pasta With Basil, Beans And Tomatoes

This is a light variation on the famous Italian pasta fagiole soup–but it’s not a soup. It’s designed to use up a lot of that basil you have growing but can’t keep up with.

  • 1 pound dried white beans (cannellini or Great Northerns)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stalk celery, cut up
  • ~
  • 1 pound pasta shells (or tubetti or penne)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 3 medium ripe (but not soft) tomatoes, seeded, chopped into
  • 1/2 inch dice
  • 15 basil leaves, cut into strips
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Grated Parmigiano cheese

1. Sort and rinse the beans and soak them for a couple of hours or overnight.

2. Bring a gallon of water to a boil and add the beans, the bay leaf, and the celery. Cook until the beans are soft, but not so long that they begin to fall apart. You want a little firmness. Drain. Measure out 3 cups of beans for this recipe; reserve the rest for other uses (they’re good in salads, or as a dish on its own).

3. Cook the pasta in enough salted (1 Tbs. per gallon) water at a rolling boil so that the pasta rolls around freely. When al dente, remove and drain, but save about 1/4 cup of the water you boiled the pasta in.

4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until it shimmers. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper until the garlic is fragrant. Add the beans, tomatoes, basil, and salt to taste. Cook for one minute, till everything is heated through, then remove from the heat.

5. Add the drained pasta to the skillet, along with the reserved pasta water. Toss in the skillet to distribute all the ingredients. Serve with grated Parmigiano cheese.

Serves four to six.

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