White Bean Pesto Pasta Bake
By: 
Dish Type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredient prep: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6 entrée servings
 
Pasta with chicken is all the rage, but what about pasta with beans for a meatless take? Cannellini beans have lots of protein to fill you up and provide volume in the serving dish, cutting down on the gluten, with just enough pasta to be a treat.
Ingredients
  • 1½ t kosher salt
  • 1½ C dry bowtie or other pasta
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C chopped yellow onion
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • ½ t dried thyme
  • 1 C ricotta
  • 1 C pesto (try the recipe from my eBook, use your favorite, or buy it ready made)
  • ⅔ C vegetable stock, bean broth, or water
  • 2 cans cannellini or white navy beans, drained and rinsed (3 C)
  • 1½ C chopped, seeded tomato (2 large)
  • ½ t ground pepper
  • 1 C fresh breadcrumbs
  • Optional: finely chopped fresh herbs (try parsley, thyme, or basil)
Make It
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, then add about a teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir in pasta and cook quite al dente (mine required about 8½ minutes for regular bowtie pasta)--the noodles will soften a bit more in the oven. Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 (F).
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium. Add onion, bay leaf, and thyme and sauté until onion is softened. Reduce heat to low and add ricotta, pesto, and stock. Stir to combine into a smooth sauce, then fold in cooked pasta, beans, and all but a handful of the tomato to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Turn off heat.
  4. Lightly oil a 2 quart baking dish and transfer pasta and bean mixture to it. Sprinkle the top with remaining tomatoes. Toss breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt and pepper, some chopped herbs if you have them around, and about ½ tablespoon oil. Sprinkle evenly over the dish. Bake just above the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes, until the breadcrumbs start to brown in a few places.
  5. Serve warm, alone or with fresh herbs.
Notes
Adapted from Deborah Madison's navy bean and pasta gratin with basil and ricotta.

No good fresh tomatoes around? Substitute canned diced tomatoes, just drain them first.

If using vegetarian pesto and ricotta, the dish is vegetarian. It's 100% meatless, no matter which cheese you use!
Recipe by Natural Comfort Kitchen at http://www.naturalcomfortkitchen.com/white-bean-pesto-pasta-bake/