Snow days are one of my favorite events. They can’t be predicted which makes the pleasant surprise of them Rather wonderful. Ever since I was a child, snow days have felt like suspended animation. One could use the extra time to tidy up or do other house chores but the act of being ‘holed’ up watching the world outside youR window become nestled in a white mass of snow seems to defy any feelings of usefulness. Instead the compulsion is to drink hot chocolate or toddies, catch up on a film you’ve been meaning to watch or a book you’ve been meaning to read. The only acceptable activities are the ones that make the most of the temporary magical world In which we find ourselves, sledding, walks etc.
Finding myself in the grasps of a snow day with my husband and daughter, I felt the need to create a warming lunch that could, if necessary sustain us the whole day, especially if the power went out. Which it did, for a little while. This bean pasta hit the spot. There is nothing about it you can’t like. It is comforting and creamy, pretty healthy and cheap to make. Once the beans are cooked the whole thing takes less than 20 minutes.
I don’t use my crockpot for much but I do think it is great for cooking things like beans. After soaking them overnight, they take about 4 hours on high. Sure this is longer than doing them on the stove, but they seem to keep their shape better and I always risk boiling them dry when boiling them rapidly. With the crockpot I can switch them on forget about them and they don’t fill the house with beany steam. I used cannelini beans because their creamy white texture is as satisfying as mashed potato. The wholemeal pasta off-sets the starch in the beans beautifully and leaves you feeling fuller much longer than regular pasta. The fusilli shape is best, it catches the beany cream so that you will have a loaded forkful of pasta and beans without having to chase the two around your bowl.
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 cups of cooked cannelini beans
¼ cup of the liquid the beans were cooked in
2 fat cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 packages of pancetta
2 tablespoons of freh sage finely chopped
2 bay leaves
Gently fry the pancetta in one tablespoon of the olive oil
Once the fat starts to render down add the garlic and allow to soften over a moderate heat
Add the beans, sage and bay leaves and cook for about 10 minutes until they start to break down a little.
Add the rest of the olive oil and about 2 tablespoons of the bean water and stir until creamy
Add more bean water if still a little dry but go easy, you don’t want it watery
Add salt and pepper to taste
Serve over wholemeal fusilli pasta With Parmesan cheese.
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