Or rather, Mari/Mary’s White Bean Pasta Recipe.
Mari is really Mary, a dear friend of the family who has been renamed and proclaimed family by us all. You know, standard practice–come into our house and we’ll rename you and proclaim you a relative.
Back in the days of red-headed Laura, we’d go food shopping together and people would ask if she was my mom or, more often, my older sister. She remains a redhead and I’ve gone back to my brown/chestnut roots. Though we no longer share the same hair color, we both LOVE good, fresh, wholesome food (she just has the kitchen to show for it).
Anyway… This recipe was first made by Mari when she stayed with us for a couple of weeks while my parents enjoyed a twenty-three-years-late honeymoon. Like all her recipes, it’s easy and fresh and can be doubled to feed lots of people with very little extra effort (if opening a can and chopping a tomato counts as effort). It was also one of the few recipes of that summer that Minxy, fussy eater that she was at the time, did not threaten to boycott.
And true story: this was the first recipe I made when I moved out for grad school in Montreal. I made the same amount I would make at the big (fam) house–so enough for about twelve–and we had leftovers for two weeks, which the man and I dutifully ate. After two weeks of this recipe, I didn’t eat it again for years.
But it’s so good I had to come back to it, hence my version of Mari’s recipe.
So, to get your cook on, gather:
- 1 box chunky pasta (penne, farfalle, fusilli)
- 2 14-oz cans tomatoes (if you can get Italian-canned tomatoes, so much the better; also, it’s fine if the tomatoes are chopped)
- 2 14-oz cans white beans (cannellini or Great Northern beans–you may actually need only half of the second can, depending on how saucy you like your pasta)
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced or mashed in a mortar and pestle (note: I’m a garlic fiend and use a whole head of 8-10 cloves and it mellows out nicely, but play around with amounts depending on your taste)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup celery, chopped (I use two or three ribs, depending on their size)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced (flat-leaf is preferable, but use whatever you can find)
- 1-2 tsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
Then get down to business:
- In a big pan, put pasta water on to boil
- Meanwhile, chop the garlic and celery. In a medium to large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the garlic, stir for about thirty seconds, then add the celery and stir to mix. Let this cook for a couple of minutes until the celery is softened.
- Add the tomatoes and the beans (I used one and a half cans for the pasta below because the tomatoes weren’t the sauciest), plus the basil, minced parsley, bay leaf, and salt/pepper/red pepper flakes to taste. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes (or longer–I let it simmer until the pasta is cooked).
- When the pasta is ready, drain and toss with the sauce, then serve. It’s great sprinkled with freshly-grated parmesan, too, if you’re into the cheese thing….