Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pasta Fagioli Casserole with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Greens

A long time ago I was given a recipe for a delicious, nutrient-packed noodle casserole that contained sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and cannellini beans.  Finding myself with most of the ingredients on hand (or similar subsititutions), I decided that I would make it again.  Unfortunately I couldn't find the recipe.  This is my improvisation:

Pasta Fagioli Casserole with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Greens
serves 6
prep time: 1/2 hour, cook time: 1/2 hour

3 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
8oz sun-dried tomatoes, quartered and rehydrated
handful of fresh basil leaves
1-2 cups water
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
4 cloves minced garlic, divided
juice of two lemons, divided
1-2 bunches fresh kale, de-stemmed and chopped
40 oz. plain tomato sauce
red pepper flakes
1lb ziti (or pasta of your choice)
olive oil for cooking

  • Puree cannellini beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil with 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, and 3 cloves of garlic; salt and pepper to taste.  It should have the consistency of thick hummus; add water if you find that it is pasty, keeping in mind that the tomato sauce will thin it as well.
  • Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in frying pan.  Add 1 clove garlic and lightly saute kale until shiny and bright green: sprinkle juice of 1 lemon over leaves while cooking.  Set aside. 
  • In large pot, heat hummus mixture with tomato sauce: seasoning to taste (resist the urge to over-season; the taste is in the mixture).  It should look similar to penne vodka sauce, but more orange than pink.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Boil pasta al dente (I don't like it that way either, but there is more baking to come), then toss cooked pasta with your sauce, and then your greens.  Mix gently, but well.  You want each noodle fully saturated, but you don't want to break the pasta.
  • Lightly oil a 9X13 baking pan, fill with mixture, cover with tin foil, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve immediately.
I'm not sure if the original recipe mentioned the inexplicable cheesiness, but it really does taste cheesy.  It is a nice hearty, healthy dish, and doubles as a great way to get more kale into my greens-hating dad, who- for some reason- has an affinity for the curly veg. 

Note: the top picture is light on sauce, bottom: heavy.

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