Whole Wheat Pasta with Spinach Pesto and Beans

 

I’m never happier than when I have an entire weekend afternoon to devote to making a fabulously complicated meal. But more often then not, I get home after a long day and stare into my fridge asking myself “what’s the quickest, reasonably healthy thing I can make for dinner tonight?”

Enter the hungry cook’s best friend: pasta. I had an enormous bunch of spinach from my CSA box that had been sitting neglected for several days and really needed to be used up. I decided to forgo steaming it in favor of making a quick pesto. And, even from-scratch beans don’t need that long to cook if you’ve been soaking them for several hours. Of course, if you have a can of beans in your pantry, that’s even quicker.

Local ingredients: CSA spinach, Pozzo Tomme cheese (from the Rinconanda Dairy in Santa Margarita, CA)

Ingredients

6 oz dry whole wheat pasta

1 large bunch spinach

1 – 2 tbsp olive oil (to taste)

up to 1/3 cup nuts (walnuts or pine nuts are great with spinach)

1.5 oz dry, nutty cheese (e.g. Pozzo Tomme)

1 cup dry cannellini beans

2 bay leaves

salt

Directions

Soak beans overnight, or at least 6 hours. Drain, then add to a medium pot with 3 cups salted water (the water should taste like a mouthful of ocean) and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer until beans are tender, adding more water as needed. Drain, discard bay leaves, and set aside.

Blend spinach one handful at a time in a food processor with the cheese, adding olive oil and nuts in small amounts until all of the spinach has been combined. You can add more oil for a richer pesto, but if you are trying to keep this dish healthy, I recommend stopping once the spinach forms a smooth paste.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain. Combine with beans and spinach pesto. Makes 3 small servings.

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