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Roasted Tomato Pomodoro Pasta with Horticultural Beans

August 30, 2009

horticultural beans

If you’ve read a few posts in this blog, you know how much I adore beans. Nutritional and culinary powerhouses, they are a staple in my household. We eat them every day.

So it’s exciting when I get to try a new variety, and it doesn’t happen often. As beautiful and alluring as the Rancho Gordo beans are, I can’t bring myself to replace the most economical part of my budget with something that costs five dollars a pound (plus shipping.) And most farmers in my area don’t grow beans for shelling, so I stick to what I can get in the bulk section. Not that I’m complaining!

But when I went to Kruger’s Farm Market to pick up some cucumbers for pickling, there, near the cabbage, sat a big bin full of these gorgeous beans! I love the American folk name for them – horticultural beans – though you may know them as cranberry or borlotti beans. Not wanting to pass up the chance to try them, I filled a big bag and brought them home, not having any idea yet what I would use them for.

Enter roasted tomatoes. Our Prince Borghese tomato plants have been prolific enough, but not so prolific that I want to drag out the canning equipment, so we’ve been slow-roasting the tomatoes instead. Slow-roasting is truly the simplest thing ever: toss a bunch of halved tomatoes with a glug of olive oil and a few good solid pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread on a sheet pan and let sit in the oven at 200 or 300 degrees for a few hours – say four to six. They will store well in the refrigerator for quite a while, or in the freezer for much longer.

So for the past couple of weeks, we’ve continually had a pyrex container of these sitting in the fridge. When I brought home the horticultural beans, I thought of  the roasted tomatoes, the beans’ Italian roots – and of my eternal penchant for Italian-peasant-style cooking – and decided on pasta.

And this pasta is so good, you guys. The roasted tomatoes infuse the dish with their characteristic tangy complexity. The horticultural beans are creamy and toothsome. The Savoy cabbage – a softer, gentler variety of cabbage with a deep, sweet flavor – provides crunch. Truly, when I took my first bite, I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. And the second-best part? Full meal in a bowl, no side dishes necessary. I’m making it again in a few days. You should too.

roasted tomato pasta

(And please, don’t be deterred by the quality of this photo. I realize it looks a bit…institutional. Please trust me when I tell you it’s not. I was simply too hungry to devote even a whit of time to food styling. Such is the life of an off-the-cuff food blogger such as myself.)

Roasted Tomato Pomodoro Pasta with Horticultural Beans

1 lb. horticultural beans, shelled (or, if you really can’t find them, use pintos)
1 lb. whole-grain spaghetti or linguini
4 cups shredded Savoy cabbage
3 lbs. fresh tomatoes, roasted in the manner described above, and roughly chopped
2.5 cups dry white wine
1.5 cups pasta-cooking liquid
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Cook the horticultural beans in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Try not to mourn too much that they’ve faded to gray from their original striped glory – the taste will be worth it. While the beans are cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Cook the spaghetti or linguini according to your usual method. Drain and set aside, reserving 1.5 cups of the cooking liquid.

3. In a large skillet, heat the butter and extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and saute for a few minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and soft but not browned. Add the white wine. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Add the pasta-cooking liquid, chopped roasted tomatoes, and lemon juice, and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes more. The sauce should thicken slightly. Toss the pasta, beans, and cabbage with the hot sauce. Mix in Parmesan and serve hot, sprinkled with more Parmesan if desired.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2009 8:59 pm

    This is exactly the kind of dish I could live on, every day! Gorgeous beans too; I haven’t had cranberry beans in a long time. Must find some! I’ve never topped/cooked beans with/in risotto, but now I’m thinking I should give it a go. You think? Love the recipe.

    • secretnatasha permalink*
      September 18, 2009 11:09 am

      Thanks! I could eat this every day too – so good. I made a risotto with fava beans earlier this summer – it’s on the blog – and it was so good! I’d like to experiment more with beans in risotto in the future.

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