From the AICR Test Kitchen
Week of January 9, 2012
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Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

White Bean Pasta

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

This classic Italian dish is easy to prepare and a healthy complement to a variety of dishes.

Cannellini beans are one of many types of beans or legumes; some familiar legumes include kidney, pinto and garbanzo beans. The white beans in this recipe are popular in Italy, especially in Tuscany, but also are prized worldwide for their taste and nutritional value. Legumes provide significant amounts of protein and fiber and are low in fat.

The herbs in this dish dress up the milder flavors of the beans and pasta. Basil provides a slight sweetness – although some think it gives off a subtle anise-like aroma – and the rosemary adds its piney resinous taste. The overall result is typical Italian – a clean yet distinctive and pleasing combination.

Add a piece of roasted chicken – even cold leftovers work well – and perhaps some sautéed spinach and you have a balanced meal. For the spinach, simply mince a couple cloves of garlic and cook over medium-high heat in a little olive oil until softened. Then toss in a handful of fresh spinach for each serving. Stir it gently as it wilts. And, in a matter of minutes you will have a light but satisfying meal combination of White Bean Pasta, roasted chicken and sautéed greens.

White Beans and Pasta

White Bean Pasta

  • 1/2 lb. whole-wheat ditalini (use any small whole-wheat pasta)
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans no salt added cannellini beans (rinse and drain if salt added)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced very thin
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped fine
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (1 tsp. dried may be substituted)
  • Cherry tomatoes or red pepper slices, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions, but halfway through cooking time (about 5-6 minutes) add beans.

While pasta and beans are cooking together, warm oil and butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, rosemary and basil. Sauté until onions are lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.

When pasta is al dente, drain and transfer to large warm serving bowl. Add browned onion mixture. Toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Garnish with tomatoes or red pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 Servings (3/4 cup).

Per serving: 305 calories, 5 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 51 g carbohydrate,
14 g protein, 7 g dietary fiber, 69 mg sodium.

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