Yield
Serves 3-4
Time
10 minutes prep, 15 minutes cooking, 25 minutes total
With squiggly noodles and tomato, this is a gem of a kid's pasta. And it has a sneaky side - they will eat beans without even thinking about it. Whether they're called rotini, fusilli, or "squiggly," you want a corkscrew-shaped pasta for this recipe so it can hold the bits of sauce and beans.
 
The optional can of tuna is a standard Mediterranean combination. It is best to use tuna packed in olive oil. The chile vinegar may seem an odd addition, but it's found all over southern Italy, made from homegrown, stingingly hot peppers. Our Tabasco sauce is a respectable stand-in.
 
Could be served hot or at room temperature, and reheats well with a few tablespoons of water.

Ingredients

  • 5 quarts salted water in a 6-quart pot
  • 6 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced into thin half-rounds
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • 6 large garlic cloves, fine chopped
  • 3 tight-packed tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarse chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chile vinegar or Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Two 15-ounce cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 pound imported Italian fusilli (corkscrew pasta; whole wheat or dried legume style preferred)
  • 1/2 cup fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • One 6-ounce can tuna packed in olive oil, partially drained (optional)

Instructions

1. Bring the salted water to a boil.

2. Combine the oil and onions in a straight-sided 12-inch sauté pan, and set the pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the onions with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Sauté until the onions are softened. Blend in the garlic, parsley, tomato paste, chile vinegar, and the 2/3 cup water. Stir and simmer until most of the water has evaporated.

3. With a wooden spatula, gently fold in the beans, and simmer for 2 minutes so they absorb the flavors. Taste for seasoning, adjust as necessary, remove the pan from the heat, and cover.

4. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, or until it is a little firmer than you like it. Scoop up about 1 cup pasta water and save it; then immediately drain the pasta in a colander.

5. Reheat the sauce, adding the reserved cup of pasta water to the pan. Stir gently, scraping up any glaze on the bottom of the pan. Cook for a minute or so to blend, and to slightly reduce the pasta water. Fold in the pasta, warming it for a few moments. Blend in the cheese, and taste for seasoning. Turn the pasta into a serving bowl, and if you want, fold in the tuna. Serve immediately.

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Reprinted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008). Copyright 2008 by American Public Media.

Reprinted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008). Copyright 2008 by American Public Media.