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Zucchini, Fennel & White Bean Pasta
“Turn humble pasta and beans gourmet by adding roasted vegetables, fresh mint and tangy, salty aged goat cheese. When making a pasta dish with beans, you can use some of the bean-cooking liquid to give the sauce silky body and help it cling to the pasta. If you're using canned beans, use some of the pasta-cooking liquid or just water. ”
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
2 medium zucchini
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat penne or similar short pasta
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup cooked cannellini beans, plus ½ cup bean-cooking liquid, pasta-cooking liquid or water (see Tip)
2 plum tomatoes, diced
¾ cup crumbled hard, aged goat cheese, or fresh goat cheese
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1Preheat oven to 400°F.
2Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise and then slice lengthwise into ½-inch-thick wedges. Quarter zucchini lengthwise. Toss the fennel and zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, turning once, until soft and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
3Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions.
4Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
5When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop. Add the vegetables, beans and bean-cooking liquid (or other liquid) to the pan with the garlic and place over medium-low heat. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the pan. Toss thoroughly and add tomatoes; toss until just warm. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese and mint. Season with pepper.
Tip: How to Cook a Pot of Beans
1. Pick over 1 pound dry beans to remove any pebbles or broken beans and rinse well under cold water. Place in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak for 4 to 24 hours.
2. When you're ready to cook the beans, heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion, 2 to 3 chopped garlic cloves and 1 chopped celery stalk (optional). Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the beans and add to the pan. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the freshness of the beans. If at any time the liquid level drops below the beans, add 1 cup hot water. When the beans are nearly soft, stir in 1 to 1½ teaspoons salt. (Do not drain: beans are best stored in their cooking liquid and the li
Makes about 6 cups.
Cut Down on Dishes: A rimmed baking sheet is great for everything from roasting to catching accidental drips and spills. For effortless cleanup and to keep your baking sheets in tip-top shape, line them with a layer of foil before each use.