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 simple ingredients. 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 noodle 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 recipe.
Why make this recipe?
- It’s super easy! So long as you have a few simple ingredients 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 do you need?
- Pasta. I love the shape and size of orecchiette and would recommend that type for the dish. However, you can use any short variety which will let you scoop up a little of everything into one bite.
- White beans. The creaminess and size of cannellini beans make them perfect for the recipe.
- Pesto. Homemade 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, frozen, storebought. It’s all good. (Note: with storebought I’ve noticed I need a little more to make a good sauce.)
Homemade sauce variations to use
I have two variations and either would be great in this recipe:
How to make this
To make pesto pasta with white beans, cook the pasta until it al dente. Drain and simmer it with some water from the pot 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 water from the pot 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 water you won’t really have sauce but just herbs sitting on noodles.
You can keep in simple and stick with the big three, or add-in other ingredients.
- Toasted Nuts. In the photos I paired the recipe with my parsley walnut pesto and I kept out some of the nuts when making the sauce to toss with my pasta. You can toast up your choice of nuts (whatever you think goes well with what 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 at the end. 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 water then drain the pasta.
- Add the drained pasta, 1/2 cup of the 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 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. Just defrost before tossing it with the pasta.