Italian White Bean and Pasta Casserole

Seasonal recipes from Cooking Fresh

By / Photography By E. S. Bruhmann | February 15, 2018

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ to 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • ½ of a 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 2–3 cups cooked white beans, or 2 (15‑ounce) cans white beans
  • 8 ounces ditalini (or other short, small pasta)
  • ½ cup Freshly grated Parmesan or romano cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs

About this recipe

As for the tomato paste in this recipe, I eyeball half a can and add it to the dish, then cover the can with foil and place it in the freezer for the next time I need it. If you don’t use the whole bunch of parsley, stem and chop it, put it in a zippered plastic bag, label and freeze for the future. 

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Peel and dice onion. Combine it with olive oil in a deep, wide pot such as a Dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat. Peel and dice carrot, add it and stir. Dice celery and add it along with any leaves.w Mince garlic and parsley and add them to the pot. Cook the vegetables 15–20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat if necessary so they don’t burn. They should be soft and reduced in size. 

Stir in tomato paste, salt and red pepper along with 2 cups water (or broth). Stir to disperse tomato paste. Add beans and let the mixture simmer as you cook pasta stirring occasionally. 

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2–3 minutes less than package directions suggest —the noodles should be on the firm side (they will absorb more liquid when combined with the beans). Drain and stir into bean mixture along with another cup or 2 of water (you can use pasta water). 

Taste to adjust seasonings. If the mixture tastes bland it needs more salt. Cooks often resist adding salt to food they’ve cooked but beans really benefit. 

Turn mixture into a lightly greased 9- by 13-inch pan and sprinkle with grated cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes to heat through. 

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ to 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • ½ of a 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 2–3 cups cooked white beans, or 2 (15‑ounce) cans white beans
  • 8 ounces ditalini (or other short, small pasta)
  • ½ cup Freshly grated Parmesan or romano cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
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