Fast, simple, and vegetarian! This recipe for pasta with white beans and pesto is a satisfying dinner which will help you follow the Mediterranean diet AND enjoy more meatless meals. Bonus!
There is no chopping and no fussing, just pasta, beans, and pesto. Here is your new favorite ‘I have to make dinner in 20 minutes and I don’t want to cook recipe.’ You’ve got this.
Trying to follow a Mediterranean or flexitarian diet these days? Me too! And that means I’ve been working on all sorts of vegetarian, meatless, and meat light dinner recipes. And, while being vegetable centric is easy in the summer, I know it can be more difficult once cold weather sets in.
Which is why I have been helping you out with winter salads, vegetable soups, and vegetarian pasta dishes! I recently posted an amazing pressure cooker squash soup which will keep you warm all winter long and today I have a super simple vegetarian pesto pasta recipe.
Why make pesto pasta with beans?
- It’s super easy! So long as you have pesto, beans, and pasta in the house you can go from thinking about dinner to eating in 20 minutes.
- It’s adaptable! Want more veggies? You can add some chopped veggies of your choice into the water with the pasta. Have a different pesto? You can use it instead. Like other beans? Open a can!
- It makes great leftovers! Dinner tonight and lunch for a couple of days. Win/win!
What ingredients do you need?
- Pasta. I love the shape and size of orecchiette pasta and would recommend that type for the dish. However, you can use any short pasta which will let you scoop up some pasta and beans together into one bite.
- White beans. The creaminess and size of cannellini beans make them perfect for the recipe.
- Pesto. Homemade pesto will give you the biggest flavor boost. However, it does make the recipe less simple (I get it!) so feel free to use any pesto you have. Fresh pesto, pesto you froze, storebought pesto. It’s all good. (Note: with storebought I’ve noticed I need a little more to make a good sauce.)
Homemade pesto variations to use
I have two pesto variations and either would be great in this recipe:
How do you make pasta with beans and pesto?
To make pesto pasta with white beans, cook the pasta until it al dente. Drain the pasta and simmer it with pasta water and white beans until you have thick sauce. Add the pesto and stir to combine.
About all I would note is to make sure you save some pasta water since you are going to cook that together with the drained pasta and beans to get your sauce going. Once you add in the pesto that will complete the sauce. Without the pasta water you won’t really have sauce but just pesto sitting on pasta.
You can keep in simple and stick with the big three, or add-in other ingredients.
- Toasted Nuts. In the photos I paired the pasta with my parsley walnut pesto and I kept out some of the nuts when making the pesto to toss with my pasta. You can toast up your choice of nuts (whatever you think goes well with the pesto you are using). Walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts are popular choices.
- Shredded cheese. Shredded parmesan or romano cheese makes a tasty topping.
- Chopped veggies. You can add chopped broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, and so on to the pasta as it cooks (add them about 3 minutes before the pasta is done); stir in some frozen peas with the beans towards the end; or add chopped tomatoes with the pesto. Last time I made the recipe I added in a cup of chopped broccoli I had hanging around.
If you try my recipe for Pesto Pasta with White Beans, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Pesto Pasta with White Beans
- 12 oz pasta, such as orecchiette
- 1 14-oz can cannellini beans, drained
- 1 cup homemade parsley walnut pesto, or storebought basil pesto
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directions.
- Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water then drain the pasta.
- Add the drained pasta, 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and cannellini beans to the empty pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Take the pasta off the heat and add the pesto, stirring to make a creamy sauce. Add more pasta water if needed. Serve.
- Walnuts: If using store bought pesto, toast and add some walnuts to the dish. 1/2 cup of walnuts toasted at 350F for 5 minutes give the recipe some extra oomph.
- Pesto: You can use frozen pesto in the recipe (any pesto can be frozen for future use). Just defrost the pesto before tossing it with the pasta.