Weight & Wellness

Small Pasta with Beans and Peas

This recipe came about by accident.  I was having some work done in my kitchen and the drawer containing my favorite pasta cooking pot was blocked.  I had already made the sauce, so I decided to cook the pasta right in the sauce.  One less pot to wash!  This method works best with small pasta shapes, such as elbows or shells because they cook quickly.  Do try to use whole wheat pasta.  Or mix whole wheat pasta with a high fiber pasta such as Ronzoni SmartTaste.


2 tsp.  Kerrygold butter - unsalted

1/8 - 1/4 C.  extra virgin olive oil

2 fresh bay leaves

1 onion - chopped

5 large cloves garlic - thinly sliced (chopped, if you prefer)

2 Tbl. tomato paste

2 fresh tomatoes - coarsely chopped (you can omit, if you don't have any, just add a 14oz can of chopped tomatoes)

Hot pepper flakes, to taste or 1 - 2 Tbl. Turkish hot pepper paste (see "special ingredients") or both, if you like spicy hot

3/4 C.  white vermouth or dry white wine

1 1/2 C. low salt chicken or vegetable broth (I like the organic Kirkland brand from Costco) or use  homemade

14-16 oz.  small pasta, such shells or elbows

1 15-16 oz. can organic beans, kidney, chickpea, cannelini... whatever you prefer - rinsed and drained -  ShopRite organic beans are very good and not at all mushy

1/2 C.  frozen peas - I use Trader Joe's organic


Place about 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer while you prepare the sauce.  You will add this to the sauce later, when you begin to cook the pasta.


Heat a deep 12" saute pan.

 Add butter and onions.  Cook about one minute til butter and onions are fragrant.

 Add bay leaves and extra virgin olive oil.

 Let onion brown a bit, then add garlic and hot pepper flakes (if using).  Let garlic acquire some color, then stir in tomato paste and hot pepper paste (if using).

 Mush around a bit, then stir in fresh tomatoes and vermouth.  Let them become acquainted for a minute or two, then add broth.

 Cook covered about 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft.

 When tomatoes are softened to your liking, pour in the pasta along with a few ladlefuls of the simmering water.  Cover and cook 5 minutes.  Check for doneness at this point.  If pasta is still too firm, add a bit more water and continue cooking until pasta is done to your liking - preferably, al dente.

Now stir in the beans and peas.  Heat through.  Remove bay leaves.  Serve as is, or sprinkle with the grated cheese of your choice.


Variation 1:  Add chopped broccoli or cauliflower along with the pasta or any vegetable that will cook in about 5 minutes.  Or add any leftover meat or vegetable with the beans, just to heat.  


Variation 2:  Eat the sauce as a soup - leave chunky or puree.  Or add your favorite vegetable(s) to the sauce and eat that as a soup.


Variation 3:  Try the original dish or any of the variations with a few squeezes of lemon juice.