Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Noodles and greens, noodles and beans


I don't like bowtie pasta. It reminds me of my college cafeteria, a thing which was distressing and, on at least one occasion, traumatic. They served a lot of bowtie pasta. I don't like the name farfalle either. It sounds both prissy and ludicrous.

Elbow noodles, on the other hand, generally make me feel pretty chipper. It's true, I avoid cold macaroni salad, but elbow noodles themselves are not the problem. I just think letting your pasta go cold and mushy and then putting mayonnaise and pickle relish on it is gross. I like elbows. Elbows are what you make mac & cheese out of, and that's a good thing. Mac & cheese was a very special food in my childhood, and I retain great admiration for it. Also, the shape of the noodle itself is enjoyable. If you cook them to the right texture, you can squoosh the air out of the noodle with your lip and cause the elbow to suck itself onto your tongue when it bounces back into shape. I think mom didn't like that aspect so much, but I did. Maybe she just didn't like the fact that having attached a noodle to my tongue, I was eager to display the result to my dining companions. As an adult, I'm sure she was right about that.

I don't actively refuse to eat bowties, it just takes something kind of special to make me thing 'hmmm, I'd like to eat some of those.' That's what was so unusual about this recipe that a friend posted a link to. I got a bit excited about it. Pasta, nuts, greens, beans, garlic, sounds good. Even if the picture did have bowties in it.

1 cup small pasta, like elbow noodles
1 bag Trader Joe's baby arugula
1 large clove garlic, maybe 2, crushed or minced
1/2 can white beans, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon broth concentrate, maybe a smidge less
toasted walnuts
olive oil, salt, pepper

Boil the noodles in salted water, and save about a cup of the boiling water when you drain them.

In a saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients comfortably, heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the garlic for a minute, sprinkle on a little salt, and put in all the greens. Stir them up until they are wilted and tender, then add the beans, the pasta and the broth concentrate with some of the pasta water. Stir to combine, and then let it heat through. Serve with nuts if you like them.

Points to consider:

1. On a practical level, elbow noodles are about the same size as beans, which makes it easy to keep the pasta to legume ratio constant throughout the dish. This is good for eating, but not as interesting to look at as having something like bowties. I'd rather have my food eat good than look good.
2. On the other hand, the arugula will have an insurmountable tendency to clump up. You will have to take a fork and comb the greens apart a bit in order to eat them with the noodles and beans. You could chop the greens slightly, but somehow that seems...incorrect. I could just be fussing over details.
3. The finished product can be anything from quite dry, almost like a warm pasta salad, to something more like soup, depending on how much liquid you add back to the pot. It's up to you. I made it dry this time, because I want the noodles to be at least semi-solid tomorrow when I take the leftovers for lunch, but if I was pretty sure it was all going to get et at one sitting, I might make it more soup-like.
4. Yes, you want that whole bag of greens. At least. They shrink to nothing, pretty much.
5. The only reason this isn't vegan is because I use chicken stock. You could just as easily use veggie broth.


  1. is it a complete protein?

  2. Probably? There's a pretty wide variety of stuff in there- nuts, grains, beans. That oughtta do it, I would think.