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January 15, 2013 | Issue 435

Budget-Friendly Beans

White Bean Pasta

When it comes to healthy eating and buying within a budget, beans are the best choice. One serving of canned beans costs a mere 25 cents. Buy them in bags, cook them yourself and you'll pay about one-half the price. Nutritionally, they’re packed with protein, fiber and cancer-fighting compounds like saponins and lignans. Pair this recipe for white bean pasta with some roasted chicken and sautéed greens for a complete and balanced meal to fit any budget.

Makes 6 servings.

Per ¾ cup 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.

  • 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


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, but halfway through cooking time (about 5-6 minutes) add beans.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Garnish with tomatoes or red pepper if desired. Serve immediately.

Grocery list

Whole-wheat ditalini
No salt added cannellini beans
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese
Cherry tomatoes or red pepper slices

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Did You Know?

Beans contain carbohydrates that we're unable to break down during digestion, leading to gas. Proper soaking, discarding and replacing the water, cooking at low heat for longer times and draining off the cooking water can help remove these carbohydrates and lessen gas.

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