Saturday, July 31, 2010

White Bean Pasta with Chermoula

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If you look up vegetarian recipes, you'll find lots of side dishes, appetizers, salads and soups. But not as many entrees. It's hard to turn vegetables into a meal, generally because a protein component is often missing. So in order to turn vegetables into an entree, I often add bread, pasta or rice to turn something that would otherwise be considered as a side dish into a main course. This recipe is a perfect example.

I found this white bean with pesto recipe in the New York Times and thought it would be an interesting dish to try. But being (generally) capable of only serving one dish a meal, this had to be the main course. So I tweaked the recipe by adding pasta and other components. It turned out to be a somewhat unconventional pasta dish, but delicious nevertheless.

You'll need:
  • 2 cups of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup of parsley, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 of a medium red onion, diced small
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 pound of pasta (I used fusilli)
  • lemon wedges for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
Start by mixing cumin, coriander, paprika, and cayenne pepper. You can gently toast it on the stove for a couple of minutes if you want. Otherwise set aside. Add parsley, cilantro and garlic into a food processor. Pulse until the herbs are chopped fine. Add lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. Set aside.

Begin boiling a large pot of water for the pasta. Once the water reaches boiling point, season with salt. Add pasta and cook to just short of al dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta water. Drain.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large skillet and turn to medium high heat. Saute onion until softened. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Add white wine and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add cannellini beans and 3 tablespoons chermoula pesto. Cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir occasionally. Add the reserved cup of pasta water and toss together with cooked pasta. Add the remaining chermoula pesto. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve with a wedge of lemon.

This is a very earthy and rustic dish full of body and flavor. The key is to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice on top. The acidity really brightens the dish and brings out the spices. 

You can find the original recipe for white bean with pesto here and the recipe for chermoula here.

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