Smoky, Saucy Beans & Pasta

1/2 pound pasta, boiled and drained (I used ditalini)
1 can cannelini beans, drained
1 cup tomato puree
1 tsp salt, divided (1/2 in the beginning of the recipe, the rest to taste)
1 onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 tbsp olive oil, plus a splash or two more at the end if desired
1 tsp smoked paprika (this is so important to the flavor)
2 tsp red wine vinegar

 Saute onion in oil until soft and turning brown. Stir in garlic and let cook for about a minute; stir in smoked paprika and let cook for another few seconds. Add tomato puree, red wine vinegar, and salt to taste (I used a full 1/2 tsp), then stir in beans and let cook for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle. Toward the end add the pasta (I didn’t want it getting mushy which is why I didn’t add it at the same time as the beans), and a splash or two more of olive oil if desired.
The original recipe said this served 4-8 but I don’t know who the cook’s feeding (certainly not anyone who eats a lot) — I would say if you make just this much, it will be a good side dish for 4-8 people (the smokiness made me think of barbecue).
As a main course (which would be awesome for Lent I think), I would double this. I served it with a loaf of homemade bread, and we ate the entire bowl, and we were all satisfied at the end, but only because my 4-year-old and 2-year-old had tiny portions (but lots of bread) and my 6-year-old was too sick to eat! (The 1-year-old loved it though, as did I — I made more this morning!)

 I adapted this to suit our family, but these ingredients from the original recipe might also be of interest:
2 cans chickpeas (or equivalent cooked beans from dried) INSTEAD OF the pasta and cannelini beans
1 cup crushed tomatoes or 1 cup tomato sauce INSTEAD OF tomato puree
2 tsp sherry vinegar INSTEAD OF red wine vinegar
Addition of a bay leaf while cooking
Addition of four packed cups fresh baby spinach (or more/less to taste), added toward end and cooked til wilted

 The chef usually serves this over rice or couscous, or with bread as I did — a great vegetarian, dairy-free meal with protein, carbs, good fat, and veggies all in one pot, and not too expensive.

Kate Sherwin


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