The Dinner I’m About To Make: Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans

Here’s how you know if the new recipe you’ve tried is successful: a few days go by, maybe a week, and suddenly you find yourself craving the thing you cooked the week before. This happens far less often than you think. For example, the other night I made Kung Pao Chicken from scratch and while it was very good (I’ll blog about it soon) I don’t think I’ll be craving somewhere down the road. Whereas this dish…

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…which I made last week and which took far less time and used far less ingredients is something I’m craving intensely right now. It’s Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans and it’s extraordinarily easy and extraordinarily delicious. I saw Lydia Bastiniach make it on her show and I scratched my head and though, “Hmmm, I wonder if that’ll be any good?” So I had Craig and Diana buy the ingredients on their way home from Zodiac, which I wasn’t in the mood to see, and those ingredients amounted to: a box of Cavatappi (corkscrew shaped pasta), a head of garlic, a jar of dun-dried tomatoes, and 1 pound canned cannellini beans.

Here’s how easy this is. You boil the pasta. In a skillet, you add 2 Tbs olive oil and 2 Tbs of the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar. You scatter in 4 fat cloves of garlic, sliced, and then cook on medium high heat for a minute or so and then you add red pepper flakes (which you should have on hand)–about 1/2 tsp–and toast for another 1/2 minute. Then you add 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes which you’ve drained and sliced into 1/4 inch strips. You spread them out, let them sizzle, toast for a minute, and then ladle in 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, keep it simmering, until the liquid reduces by half. Finally, you stir in 1 lb of the cannellini beans which you’ve drained and rinsed, along with 1/4 tsp salt and about 1 1/2 cups more pasta cooking water. Bring it to a boil, stir together, and cook “at an active simmer” for 4 minutes. When the pasta’s al dente, you add it to the skillet to finish cooking in the sauce. You can add parsley, then, and off the heat about 1/2 cup of cheese (Parm or Grana Padano) and a final Tbs of olive oil before serving.

The beans somehow enrich everything so the meal feels far more substantial than you think it might be. It’s a wonderful and surprising mix of textures and flavors and everyone loves it. I love it, so much so that I’m going to the store RIGHT NOW to buy the ingredients so I can make it again.

T-minus 30 minutes until supreme mouth satisfaction.

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50 comments

  1. I’ve never once been disappointed in anything I’ve done that I learned from Lydia. Always earthy and satisfying.

    I’m new to you, Adam, and really enjoying your blog and articles.

  2. after a long horrible day in lab (i’m in grad school), your article on your waiter experiences, particularly your hatred of the wine guy, really made me feel your pain. Great blog btw. From some of the comments, i gather some of your readers think you have it easy, but that’s bullshit. keep up the great work, and I hope book sales are humming :D

  3. If you had a truly great cooking experience, I DO think you’d like to make it again the week next! I had this with Sichuan Dry-Fried String Beans, which I made 3 weeks in a row; the first time a huge success, the second time disappointing (wrong order of steps) and the third time (yesterday) again very delicious and addictive. How funny you have just made Kung Pao Chicken – looking forward to you blogging about it! – it is one of my ongoing projects, making the perfect Gongbao Jiding [Gongbao Chicken]!

  4. This was exactly what the doctor ordered for dinner tonight! I whipped it up for my roommates after a late class, and it was quite perfect. It had just the right “get them in the door” aroma, easy to pick up ingredients, a cinch to prepare, and was surprising, satisfying and infinitely comforting. I just wish you would have warned to make enough for seconds, because I really am craving another bowl-full.

    Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!

  5. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then consider yourself flattered immediately after I read this recipe. It fit the bill, and your recipe write up was very easy to follow.

    Here is my blog post on the subject, I even added some nice pictures.

  6. Thanks for the rec, Adam. Tried it last night and it turned out great. A couple of questions/observations:

    – My version came out a lot redder than yours. I suspect the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes was redder.

    – Are the cannellini beans supposed to mostly disintegrate during the cooking? They seemed to in my version. Perhaps it was the brand of beans I used — it was Whole Foods. What brand did you use?

  7. The perfect vegetarian meal! Oh how I will never understand the carb-haters. On an amusing note, one of our readers recently submitted the ever-impressive, 343 ways to do Mac and Cheese (including some with cavatappi).

    Link

  8. Thanks for posting this recipe – it was perfect for a night when I didn’t really feel like cooking but wanted something good and non-take-out to eat nonetheless. I appreciate it!

  9. You couldn’t be more right about this recipe. I was home alone and in a major funk this evening, due to an apartment search that’s not going well and work that is too stressful. This meal magically brightened my mood. Too bad I have to clean up afterwards.

  10. What a deliciously easy and yummy looking meal. As soon as I can get my hands on some cannellini beans, I’ll be cooking that up.

    Also wanted to mention that I absolutely love your blog. Your humour combined with your love of food is endearing and captivating. I’ve caught myself laughing out loud way too many times to name.

  11. Mmmm….this was very flavorful and comforting. This completes my trio of pasta recipes that I have since enjoyed from your wonderful blog: orrechiette with pancetta and broccoli, rigatoni in cherry tomato sauce and finally cavatappi with sundried tomatoes and beans! Thanks for sharing!

  12. I completely understand the wanting the successful dish again because I am, believe it or not, making my craving right at this moment. I now make it at least once a week.

    Please don’t laugh, but I used to think that a hunk of beef, some water and dry onion soup mix and some carrots and potatoes made the best pot roast I could make because that’s how my mom made it. Boy was I wrong! When I started becoming a mini foodie (I’m still at the mini part) I found so many wonderful spices and herbs beyond my wildest imagination. Now my pot roast is something almost everyone who has tried it drools over and wants time and again. It’s a good feeling. :)

  13. Great dish – it manages to be special and comfort food at the same time. The red pepper and parmesan give it zing. For our household, it’s also a perfect dish for Lent. We’ll definitely make it again. Thanks! And good luck with the Food Network gig!

  14. Great dish – it manages to be special and comfort food at the same time. The red pepper and parmesan give it zing. For our household, it’s also a perfect dish for Lent. We’ll definitely make it again. Thanks! And good luck with the Food Network gig!

  15. I decided to make this the other night and spent an hour and a half running around to different grocery stores buying ingredients.

    I find recipes written in paragraph form difficult to follow and then wierd things like “1/2 cup of cheese (Parm or Grana Padano)” Well they sell it by the pound at my grocery store. I had no idea how much to buy to come up with 1/2 cup. It would have been nice write the recipe from the book verbatim.

  16. I’ve made this twice now – it’s good enough for company, easy enough for a weeknight, and delicious enough so that I don’t mind having leftovers for three nights in a row. Bravo!

  17. The second time I made this was way better than the first. My friend LOVED it and said it was his best meal in a long time. Advice:

    Be sure to cook down the liquid until it’s a sauce not a soup.

    Don’t stint on the salt and the red pepper.

    Substitute cream for cheese. (I did that because my friend dislikes cheese, but it really was better.)

    Yum! What a winner.

  18. The second time I made this was way better than the first. My friend LOVED it and said it was his best meal in a long time. Advice:

    Be sure to cook down the liquid until it’s a sauce not a soup.

    Don’t stint on the salt and the red pepper.

    Substitute cream for cheese. (I did that because my friend dislikes cheese, but it really was better.)

    Yum! What a winner.

  19. This is a great recipe! I really, really enjoyed it, and so did my friends. I had very little parmesan remaining, but I did have fresh mozzarella. I chopped fresh mozzarella into little bits and then tossed in about a cup right before taking the pasta off the heat. I then served it with a sprinkle of the parmesan that was remaining. This was delicious- sort of like sun dried tomato macaroni and cheese. This will be made again…

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  21. This was really good. It reminds me a lot of my mom’s pasta e fagioli, but the red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes definitely kick it up a notch. Thanks for the recipe!

  22. The second time I made this was way better than the first. My friend LOVED it and said it was his best meal in a long time. Advice:

    Be sure to cook down the liquid until it’s a sauce not a soup.

    Don’t stint on the salt and the red pepper.

  23. just came across your blog today (retweeted by Food52 for your rave review of the best brownies ever) and am thoroughly enjoying reading old posts. This is somewhat similar to a favorite cooked to order lunch prepared by our executive chef in the cafeteria of the hospital where I worked. (not kidding.) he used fresh pasta, garlic, green onions and sun dried tomatoes. i subsequently added broccoli tossed in with the pasta water and cooked shrimp. People unfailingly love the aroma as this is prepared. i too hate to discard the oil from the sun dried tomatoes and that adds a really nice depth of flavor.

    dumb question = now that you are in LA do youknow Amelia Morris aka BonAppetempt?

    cheers

    Joan

  24. Hey! Lidia said NOT to drain the pasta but to scoop with a spider and add it to the pot (this is what I am doing right now!) ;-)

  25. Yum! I’ve made this from your blog, and we loved it. Really tasty pasta! though I do like chickpeas instead of the cannellini beans.

  26. I have made this a 100 times, and every time….I just L-O-V-E it!
    At times I put a few fried eggs on top and I have a splendid comfort, easy and cheap meal, so Thank You, thank you, and again, thank you for this great recipe! I do love all your recipes, blog and stories, so please do stay!! Makes this Dutch Woman happy daw’lin……………

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    tune ecu The beans somehow enrich everything so the meal feels far more substantial than you think it might be. It’s a wonderful and surprising mix of textures and flavors and everyone loves it. I love it, so much so that I’m going to the store RIGHT NOW to buy the ingredients so I can make it again.

  28. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then consider yourself flattered immediately after I read this recipe. It fit the bill, and your recipe write up was very easy to follow.

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