Are you all ears for another Meatless Monday? Well then, have I got an earful for you! Orecchiette, little ear-shaped pasta, that is; filled with flavor from onion and garlic, herbs and some crushed red pepper flakes, with protein from beans and packed with nutrients from fresh spinach, this pasta dish is super fast to prepare and so good for you!
It is said that the Tuscans were responsible for teaching the French how to cook. Tuscan-style cooking is characterized with very simple foods that are not drowned in heavy sauces; hearty, flavorful foods that allow the ingredients to shine on their own. This pasta dish does just that very thing. The “sauce” is comprised of the olive oil and the juices from the tomatoes, giving just enough moisture to coat the pasta and wilt the spinach.
With the use of onion, garlic, herbs and a bit of heat from crushed red pepper flakes, all of the freshness of the tomatoes and spinach are perfectly enhanced. Sparing use of Parmesan cheese as a topping adds a rich, almost fruity flavor.
The rustic simplicity of the dish makes it all the more appealing for peasants like Mr. Saucy and me; it is a really super meatless meal, ready in minutes, filling and delightfully tasty. Not only that, this is a very budget friendly dish that I hope you will try.
- 8 ounces Orecchiette pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 plum tomatoes, diced
- 6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
- Fill a large sauce pan about half way with water and place on the stove to boil.
- Once it reaches a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions for al dente (do not overcook the pasta, you want a bite to it...not soggy)
- Drain the pasta in a colander.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter; until the butter is melted.
- Add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and the Italian seasoning and saute for another couple of minutes.
- Add the white beans and plum tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes begin to soften.
- Add the spinach and continue to cook until the spinach wilts.
- Stir in the orecchiette and simmer until the pasta is reheated.
- Serve in large bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese.