One of the questions that I get asked often is whether I always cook complex dishes, and what I cook when I get home from work. This is a typical example of something I whipped up when I came home from work. It does not have to take a lot of time to make a tasty meal. In this case, I prepared this dish from start to finish in 28 minutes, including taking all the photographs. To show you that it can be done, I took more photos than usual, to show you almost every single step that went into the preparation.
The dish itself is very tasty with just the right balance between flavors and textures. Not using too much tomato is important for that balance. I really like the name of runner beans in Italian: piattoni (big flat ones). When you don’t cook them long enough, they can squeak when you eat them (which is kind of unpleasant). To make sure that the beans are cooked in the same time as the pasta, I add a bit of baking soda to the cooking water. This will make the water alkaline (increase the pH), which speeds up the cooking process. The tomato sauce is prepared separately. If you were to cook the runner beans in the (acidic, low pH) tomato sauce, it would take a lot longer to cook the runner beans.
7:15pm Put the plates in the oven at 100C/220F to preheat them.
7:16pm Gather the
For 2 servings
500 grams (1.1 lbs) runner beans
200 grams (.44 lbs) penne pasta (I used wholewheat)
250 grams (1 cup) sieved tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced flat leaf parsley
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda (baking powder would also work)
30 grams (1 oz) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (not shown in the photo)
7:17pm Fill a pot with water and put it over high heat to bring it to a boil. Add about a tablespoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
7:18pm Chop the onion.
7:19pm Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, add the chopped onion, and season with salt. Cook the onion over medium heat, stirring regularly.
7:21pm While the onion is cooking, remove the ends off the runner beans and chop them.
7:23pm When the water boils…
…add the runner beans, and wait for the water to come back to boiling.
7:25pm Add the pasta, and set the timer for al dente according to package instructions. In my case this was 11 minutes.
7:26pm The onion should be slightly golden by now (did you remember to stir it regularly?).
7:27pm add the sieved tomatoes.
7:28pm Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
7:30pm While the pasta, runner beans, and tomato sauce are cooking, grate the parmigiano.
7:31pm Stir the tomato sauce regularly.
7:32pm Stir the pasta and runner beans regularly as well.
7:35pm Mince the parsley as well.
7:36pm When the timer beeps, drain the pasta and runner beans using a colander.
7:37pm The tomato sauce should be nice and thick by now.
7:38pm Add the pasta and runner beans to the tomato sauce.
7:38pm Add most of the parmigiano and most of the parsley as well.
7:38pm Start mixing everything…
7:39pm …until it is well mixed.
7:39pm Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
7:41pm Take the plates out of the oven and divide the pasta onto the plates. Drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil.
7:42pm Sprinkle with the remaining parmigiano and parsley, and serve at once.
A very appropriate flashback for today’s post, as two years ago I also posted something that I whipped up when I came home from work. In this case pasta with shrimp, tomatoes, and peas.