Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pasta with Spinach, White Beans, and Walnuts

I'm probably not the only one who is looking to eat less meat.  It's a growing trend in America.  Last year, my efforts ended up being a lot of pasta and cheese, which doesn't seem that healthy either. So, I've been experimenting with non-meat proteins for the last few weeks.

I bought some tempeh from the grocery store the other day. I initially cubed it into a veggie stir-fry, but when I went for a taste, it had an off-putting flavor.  I couldn't pinpoint what it was, but I just didn't like it.  I crumbled all the tempeh cubes so the pieces would be smaller, and the crumbled tempeh ended up absorbing more of the sauce.  In the end, I think the dish was salvaged, but I'm not anxious to try tempeh again soon.

I did some research and decided to try cooking with nuts.  For those who know my favorite American Chinese takeout dish (chicken with cashew nuts without the cashew nuts), my cooking with nuts might seem strange, but I've had some good experience with pine nuts or chopped pecans or walnuts in salads.  I went to the internet and found this recipe on the Martha Stewart web site.  It also has beans in it, so it has even more non-meat protein.  Score!

I replaced the original recipe's arugula with spinach since that's what I had in the refrigerator.  This dish got two thumbs up form the husband, and I think it will be a staple for weeknight meals this year!

Pasta with Spinach, White Beans, and Walnuts
adapted from

16 ounces gemelli or farfalle
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 pound spinach
1 can (15 ounces) small white beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted if desired

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and set aside.
  2. Place pasta pot over medium heat. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon butter; cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add spinach to pot; toss just until wilted. Add beans, pasta, and remaining 3 tablespoons butter; season with salt and pepper. Toss, adding enough reserved water to mixture to coat pasta. Garnish with walnuts.
Yields: 4 servings
Total time: 20 to 30 minutes