We all know it’s good to eat lots of vegetables and we love eating pasta, so I am always looking for pasta dishes that include a healthy dose of vegetables. Runner beans are easily available in the Netherlands, but I’ve had a hard time coming up with tasty pasta dishes with them. The only blog-worthy dish I created so far has been fusilli with runner bean puree, which has the flavor but not the texture of the beans. The texture of runner beans is tricky, because when undercooked they are ‘squeaky’ between your teeth, and when overcooked they are mushy.
And now I’ve finally created a truly delicious dish with runner beans. Which, by the way, I think would also work very well with the pods of fava beans. In this dish, I’ve combined farfalle pasta (but other short pasta would work too) with runner beans and prosciutto, and bound it all together with a carbonara-style sauce that was freshened up with yogurt. I got the latter idea from Silva Rigobello. Instead of using one egg per person, I’ve replaced one egg with an equivalent amount of yogurt. The savory prosciutto, ‘green’ runner beans and creamy sauce work together to turn this into a delicious filling dish.
The nice thing is that this is one of those pasta dishes that is not only delicious, but also only takes as long as it requires to cook the pasta. Here’s what I did…
150 grams (.33 lb) farfalle or other short pasta
400 grams (.9 lb) runner beans, ends removed and chopped
100 grams (3.5 oz) prosciutto di parma, thinly sliced
60 ml (1/4 cup) yogurt
1 Tbsp olive oil
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
40 grams (1.4 oz) freshly grated parmigiano
1/4 tsp baking soda (optional)
As mentioned in the introduction, cooking runner beans just right can be tricky. It can help to add 1/4 tsp of baking soda to the cooking water. This shortens the cooking time and keeps the beans brightly green. The farfalle I used require 10 minutes for al dente. With the help of the baking soda, that is just the right cooking time for the runner beans. So bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, and 1/4 tsp of baking soda.
If you don’t use baking soda or your pasta has a different cooking time or your beans are thicker or thinner, you may need to adjust the timing of cooking the beans and the pasta. They can be cooked in the same pot regardless, but you may have to wait a few minutes before adding the pasta or start with the pasta if it requires more time than the beans.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add 100 grams (3.5 oz) of prosciutto di parma, chopped. Stir for a minute, then turn off the heat.
In a small mixing bowl, combine an egg with 60 ml (1/4 cup) of yogurt, a dash of freshly grated nutmeg, and freshly gound black pepper.
Whisk to mix.
Add 40 grams (1.4 oz) of freshly grated parmigiano…
…and whisk to incorporate that as well.
When the pasta and runner beans are done, put the prosciutto back over medium heat, drain the pasta and beans…
…and add them to the prosciutto. Stir briefly and turn off the heat.
Add the egg mixture…
…and stir until the pasta and beans are coated with the egg sauce. The residual heat from the pasta, beans, and prosciutto will ‘cook’ the sauce without curdling the eggs. Make sure to turn off the heat, otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs instead.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.
Serve on preheated plates, sprinkled with some more freshly grated parmigiano.
This is outstanding a well-rounded full-bodied white, such as an Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva (aged in wood) of at least 5 years old.
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