Tomato, Lemon, and Cannellini Bean Pasta

Let's face it--trying to cook a healthy meal is expensive. It's much easier to buy a package of Ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese for a dollar than it is to find something that is affordable AND has nutritional value. So, wanting a recipe that wouldn't break the bank, I found this: Lemon, caper, and white bean pasta. The recipe is supposed to be made from foods that are generally already in your pantry (and that are fairly cheap!), so I decided to give it a try. I omitted the capers (I didn't have any, and didn't want to spend money on them just for this recipe) and instead used my friend Sarah's roasted grape tomato idea in their place.

1 box grape tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil (fresh would be even better!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 box angel hair pasta (I used whole wheat)
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon garlic pepper
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt to taste
Optional toppings: Parmesan cheese, parsley 

Put the water on to boil for your spaghetti. Salt the water to flavor your pasta.

While the water is heating up, prepare your roasted tomatoes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together your grape tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and minced garlic cloves until all the tomatoes are well-coated. Spread out on a baking sheet. When the oven is ready, cook at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes (7 minutes is fine if you want the tomatoes a bit firmer; they will start to break down by 10 minutes). I may come back to this recipe for a homemade pasta sauce in the future--the smell of the tomatoes when they are finished is amazing!

Next, get your sauce ready. Melt the butter in a skillet over low-medium heat. Using a handheld grater, shred the peel of the lemon (the shreds of lemon peel are the zest) into the butter. To get the most juice from your lemon, roll it on the counter applying pressure with your hands to get the juices to flow, then cut the lemon open and squeeze the juices from each half into the butter, as well. Add in your garlic pepper and salt and mix well. Finally, toss in the cannellini beans and roasted tomatoes until heated through.

Toss with the spaghetti or simply serve the tomato-bean sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley if desired. Enjoy the meal--and the extra money in your wallet! :)

**I had to include a close-up to point out the color here. The dish is still tasty without the tomatoes, but they provide both an added depth of flavor and beauty in presentation. A feast for the stomach AND eyes! (Now really...go enjoy ;)).

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