Pasta is always my go-to for quick and easy dinners. It also might have something to do with being a pasta addict, and the fact that most pasta dishes only take minutes to put on the table.
When it comes to pasta dishes I make over and over, this Mediterranean Pasta with White Beans and Arugula is at the top of my list. Spaghetti is up there, too, but it tends to get boring after awhile. I love the combination of flavors and textures in this pasta and will never tire of it! This recipe can be prepared in the time it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook. So, 20 minutes tops!
Let’s talk about all the goodies in this Mediterranean Pasta with White Beans and Arugula.
The pasta is, naturally, important. Here I’ve used Banza, gluten-free pasta made with chickpeas; any type of pasta will work great. Banza is a is high in protein which helps make the dish even more filling.
White beans are a great source of protein and fiber. We eat a lot of beans at my house. If you’ve never tried adding them to pasta, you’ve got to try it. White beans are creamy and earthy, and also add to the heartiness of this dish. I drain and rinse the beans, then add them to the pasta cooking water a minute or two before the pasta has cooked completely. This heats them up quickly and easily.
One of the stars, perhaps even an unsung hero, is the arugula. Arugula is one of my very favorite greens. There’s always a bag in my fridge. It’s versatile and that peppery flavor is irresistible. Arugula wilts nicely from the heat of the pasta, but it doesn’t get all squishy like spinach does.
I prefer using organic or wild arugula that is on the smaller and sweeter side. If you use arugula that has larger leaves, give them a quick chop before adding to the pasta. Other sturdy, flavorful greens could be used here in conjunction with or substituted for the arugula. Baby kale, chard, spinach (though it can become soggy!), and chicories such as radicchio or endive would add a lot of flavor and texture to the dish.
Flavor boosters are another essential component, as well as adding some extra textures. Sun-dried tomatoes add a little chewy, tangy bite that I love. Their flavor is concentrated and bright. In the winter and spring, they take the place of fresh tomatoes, which can certainly be substituted when in season.
Olives and artichoke hearts are briny and vinegary. Toasted pine nuts add nuttiness and crunch. Crushed red pepper adds a hit of heat–optional, but recommended. Parmesan adds a little saltiness and umami.
This pasta doesn’t have a sauce, it’s more of a vinaigrette – a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice, drizzle of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and that’s it. It could not be easier!
Another thing I love about this Mediterranean pasta is that it is like the perfect marriage between a fantastic pasta and an equally fantastic salad, but all rolled into one.
Mediterranean Pasta with White Beans and Arugula
When it comes to quick and easy pasta dinners, this is one you'll want to add to your repertoire. The whole recipe comes together in the time it takes for the water to boil and pasta to cook.
- 8 ounces pasta any variety
- 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups wild or baby arugula
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes drained if packed in oil
- 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts drained
- 1/2 cup pitted and sliced kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano or basil for garnish
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Crushed red pepper flakes optional
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, gather the other ingredients. During the last 1-2 minutes of the pasta cooking time, add the white beans to the water so they can be warmed up.
Drain the pasta and beans. Place them back in the pot and add the arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and olives. Toss well.
Add the olive oil and lemon juice to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.
Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the shaved Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs and pine nuts. Serve immediately with red pepper alongside, if desired.