Mediterranean Beans Two Ways: White Bean (or Italian Sausage) Pasta and Spicy White Bean Salad

Beans. So inexpensive. So nutritious. So tasty. So versatile. I love them. A year ago I went searching for some inspiration for quick and healthy work lunches, and found this recipe for a sundried tomato cannellini bean salad. I made it as-is the first time, and then adjusted it to my own tastes, and have tweaked it here and there ever since, and it has become a go-to favorite of mine. It’s so adjustable, as the title of this post indicates–with the flavors and same general assembly principles accommodating a bean salad, a bean salad over a greens salad, or a pasta dish, depending on my mood. It tastes fresh, bright, and lightly spicy, with a good hit of creamy (even without the heavy cream because beans have a creamy mouth-feel) and savory thanks to the garlic and onions. So today I’m sharing how to use the same beans in two ways, in a pasta or in a salad. Oh, and if you have a family that requests meat, then you can also make the same dish with Italian sausage. 😉

Spicy Italian Sausage or White Bean Pasta
Yield: 6 servings

1/2 pound cavatappi pasta
2 T olive oil
1 pound mild Italian sausage, ground or links uncased and broken-up
OR
2 14.5 ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 small sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 C fresh quartered campari or other small tomato, such as roma
1/2 C sundried tomatoes in oil, julienned and kept with some of their oil
1 T red wine vinegar
1 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper
3/4 t ground rosemary
1 T dried basil
1/2 t crushed red pepper
2 C heavy ream
1/2 C feta cheese

Instructions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta. Meanwhile, in a wide bottomed large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot, then add the onions and sausage (or white beans) and cook, breaking up the sausage and stirring it frequently. Cook until sausage is browned and onions have softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, and basil, and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the vinegar and tomatoes, seasoning with sea salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook until tomatoes have softened, about 8 minutes. Add heavy cream and let simmer, reducing and thickening a little, while pasta cooks. Cook pasta to al dente in the water, about 7 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the sausage mixture. Add the feta cheese and stir it in. Serve.

See Notes on this–This photo contains the optional baby kale and arugula wilted in

Spicy Mediterranean White Bean Salad
Yield: 4 servings

1 14.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 T red onion, finely diced (to taste)
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C sundried tomatoes in oil, julienned
1 T oil from sundried tomatoes
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t crushed red peper (to taste)
3/4 t sea salt (to taste)
2 T red wine vinegar
1/4 C crumbled feta cheese
salad mix of your choice, but it works best with a mixture of argula, spinach, and other soft/baby lettuces
fresh squeeze lemon juice, for dressing
extra sea salt and black pepper for dressing

Optional (See Notes):
baby kale
extra spinach/arugula

Za’atar Pita:
whole wheat or white pita bread
olive oil
Za’atar spices

Instructions:
Combine everything for the beans in a lidded storage container and let the flavors come together a few hours prior to serving. Meanwhile, toast some pita bread in a small skillet with a little olive oil over medium heat. Once it has browned on both sides, sprinkle a little Za’atar on one side and let cool before serving. Serve over your preferred mixture of lettuce and use Za’atar pita for texture as croutons, then squeeze the lemon juice over top and sprinkle with a little extra sea salt and black pepper.

Notes:
1. In the photo, I’ve actually lightly sauteed the whole bean mixture with some baby kale and extra arugula. I had access to baby kale (which is a wonderful treat), so opted to lightly heat the sundried tomato oil, add the greens with the crushed red pepper and garlic, and let the greens wilt for 2-3 minutes before removing them to finish the recipe. It makes this dish even more full of nutrients and was definitely a tasty addition.
2. You can also eat this without the lettuce, as a bean salad, and use the pita to scoop-up the beans.

Published by kelinmchull

Wife, mother, student, dreamer/doer, adventurer, wannabe farmer, writer, and all around curious gal.

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