There are quite a few dishes in Porto that combine beans and pasta. At the moment I am a little obsessed with the white beans here, which usually tend to be navy beans. Some of the best dishes are the humble bean dishes. Several times in large spreads of tapas, it’s the bean dishes that stand out. We’ve even tried our first tripe mixed with a bean stew.
Along with the pasta and beans combination, this dish adds romesco sauce, a delicious uncooked sauce made with bread and almonds from Catalonia, which also goes great with seafood. I do not have a food processor at the moment so I am illustrating how to make this sauce simply, without one, but if you have one by all means use it. The technique is the same; mix your ingredients, leaving the olive oil to blend at the end. I used pre-ground almonds, but you can use blanched almonds ground in a food processor. If you do buy ground almonds (also called almond flour) store the leftover in the freezer. It can be used in many desserts, such as Bakewell tarts.
I used homemade beans with this recipe, but you can always use canned. Just rinse them off before heating them and tossing them in.
I used tomato juice from a can of whole tomatoes. I tend to always have some of this leftover in my fridge. If you prefer you can puree some tomatoes and strain out the seeds.
If you have time, let the romesco sauce sit a bit so the garlic mellows.
I like the ratio of this dish to be more pasta than beans, but you can switch that around if you prefer. You can also leave the feta out to make a vegan dish; it’s delicious without it.
1 jarred bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup juice from canned tomatoes)
¼ cup ground almonds (or blanched almonds ground in a food processor)
¼ cup white bread, cubed
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
4 sprigs parsley, plus more for sprinkling, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
generous sprinkle of cayenne pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
400g white beans, cooked
250g orecchiette pasta
2 oz feta, crumbled
Toast the bread at 375 f/ 190 C until dry and slightly toasted at edges.
Since I did not have a food processor I put the toasted bread in a ziploc bag and hit it with a pan.
In a tall glass add the first 9 ingredients. Whisk with a fork.
Gradually whisk in olive oil until you reach a thick, but pourable consistency. Salt to taste.
Cook pasta according to directions.
Toss beans, pasta, romesco sauce in a large bowl.
Plate and sprinkle with parsley and feta.
Another easy vegetarian recipe is our Mushroom, Greens, and Chickpea Soup.