Cannellini beans, bright greens and buttery crushed tomatoes create a heavenly sauce for pasta. A creamy red sauce without the cream, and dare I say better without it. The new vodka sauce is here – and it’s called Pink Greens & Beans.
Once upon a time, I wanted to make Greens & Beans pasta but didn’t have a lemon, a non-negotiable ingredient. Running out to the store for a lemon after I got home after working all day—also another non-negotiable.
So I had to get creative. I had beans, sausage, pasta (I always have pasta) and tomatoes (another “always”). I knew the capabilities of pasta water, and its magic ability to turn just about anything into a sauce, and I thought “what if I made it like a vodka sauce, would it work?”
When brilliance strikes, you don’t ask questions.
Ever since, this has become just as much of a weeknight classic as the original. It’s just like a vodka sauce, creamy and smoky, but without cream or added vodka.
It comes together fast, and it’s another one-pot wonder that’s perfect for when you want to spend as little time on your feet as possible, and more time on the couch. With wine. And television.
It starts the same as Greens & Beans, but ends with tomatoes. And lots of cheese. I suppose you could dial back the cheese if you wanted to keep it lighter, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
When the white beans are softened, instead of deglazing with wine (which you could also do and add tomatoes after it reduces) you add tomatoes. Then, you add your magic pasta water, your al dente pasta, a knob of butter and a generous amount of grated parm.
And then, you pat yourself on the back, dig in, and remind yourself that you’re not at a restaurant.
If you don’t have sausage, or don’t feel like adding greens because you just want a big bowl of creamy pasta, I won’t judge you—it will be just as delicious. It’s flexible, and can work with what you have on hand.
I’ve made it with the works, with fresh rosemary, sausage and greens, and with nothing but pasta, beans and tomatoes for the perfect empty-pantry dinner.
This is a comforting bowl of pasta that feels indulgent, but doesn’t feel heavy like a cream-based dish. Instead of the acid from the lemon, we’re achieving that balance with tomatoes.
It works. It’s easy. Just try it.
Pink Greens & Beans
- 1 can of cannellini beans
- large bunch of arugula or greens
- 1 cup or so of puréed or crushed tomatoes
- 1 lb of short pasta I like paccheri pasta for this dish, but I’ve also made it with orecchiette and ziti
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/2 cup finely grated parm or more, because cheese
- hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
- fresh rosemary or dried herbs de Provence
- white wine
- Set a pot of water to boil.
- Add a swirl of olive oil to dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot and heat to medium.
- Add sausage to pot. Cook until browned and cooked through.
- Remove sausage and set aside.
- Lower heat slightly, add white beans and season with salt and pepper, and herbs if using. If you don’t have fresh rosemary, add dried herbs de Provence
- Add pasta and salt to boiling water.
- When beans are creamy and begin to soften, and you notice the pot seems dry, add a splash of white wine and cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has reduced. If you don’t have white wine, no worries—just proceed to next step.
- Add crushed tomatoes, more salt, and 1 tbs of butter.
- If tomatoes and beans begin to dry out too much, add some pasta water directly from your boiling pot of pasta to keep it loose like the consistency of sauce.
- Just before pasta is done (like a minute before you’re ready to add it to the sauce), add your sausage back to the pot with tomatoes and beans along with your greens, and turn the heat off.
- When pasta is al dente, use a slotted spoon to add pasta to beans and tomatoes, making sure to include a little pasta water each time you bring some pasta over—don’t try and strain the pasta so much with the spoon. You probably add about 1/2 cup of pasta water this way.
- Add remaining butter and continue to toss and toss pasta until glossy, adding parm along the way. Add pasta water as needed. Don’t give up if it doesn’t immediately come together, it might take a minute or two—be a patient with pasta water. You will be rewarded!