Roasted tomato pasta with white cannellini beans featuring sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes roasted with garlic, herbs and lemon until they burst into the most delicious sauce. Toss with fluffy gnocchi or your favorite pasta for the perfect meatless dinner.
Roasted White Bean and Tomato Pasta
Creamy cannellini beans swim in the most luscious roasted tomato pasta sauce infused with mild notes of garlic and rosemary before being tossed with fluffy potato gnocchi. Think of it as a simple Tuscan pasta recipe to be made with the last of summer’s heavenly tomatoes and baby spinach.
On Roasting Tomatoes
You’ll want a lot of juicy cherry tomatoes, red or yellow or a medley, whatever is ready for picking in your garden or jumps in your cart at the market. Do not use grape tomatoes, they will not give you a nice sauce and their skins are pretty tough. Chopped up larger heirlooms will also work but if you have the choice of cherry varieties go for those. The more the better! No need to seed the tomatoes and don’t cook them down too much, it’s important to not evaporate the sauce. Use a good olive oil here for richness but know you can also omit it for a lighter healthier weeknight meal.
About the White Beans
Any white bean variety that you happen to have cooked from scratch will be absolutely fabulous here. Otherwise one can of creamy cannellini beans that have been drained and rinsed well will be do. You can go heavier on the beans if desired and up the quantity to 28 oz. The important thing to consider is not adding the beans until the tomatoes have burst. Technically we just need to heat them through, added too early in the process before you have the sauce from the tomatoes they will just dry out. Trust me, you want to wait.
Choosing the Pasta
Any favorite small shape pasta can work here. I used some potato gnocchi, I love the comforting fluffy pillows with such a sauce. The ridges help grab onto the sauce and pieces of tomato in every bite, plus bonus points for cooking super fast. The gnocchi are done as soon as they float to the top, don’t overcook.
I’ll usually alternate between gnocchi and orecchiette with this recipe, it’s all a preference of taste and textures in the end and also availability. All things considered, if you truly fancy long noodles by all means go for it, I can’t see how chewy Bucatini wouldn’t hit the spot. Alternatively you could spoon this mixture over garlic rubbed bruschetta and serve as finger food. It’s absolutely fantastic and a great thing to serve to company too.
- Garlic – Whole cloves in their paper with just the ends exposed to steam nicely and flavor the dish. After roasting you can squeeze them out of their paper and mash before adding back into the sauce, or just save to enjoy on bruschetta.
- Lemon – Cut into wedges and roasted together with the tomatoes until all the juice has emulsified with the rest of the sauce.
- Rosemary + Thyme – You can use one or the other or both, totally your call, just use something.
- Baby Spinach – I love having some dark leafy greens with this meal, makes it seem balanced. The great thing is that you can add the fresh spinach after turning off the oven, and the steam from the sauce and what’s trapped inside the oven will make it wilt beautifully in just a few minutes. For best results I wouldn’t use frozen spinach here, however if you must, make sure to squeeze out as much water as possible, and just know it won’t be as good as fresh texture wise.
Although this pasta is best enjoyed fresh, any leftovers can be refrigerated up to 5 days and reheated on the stove top or microwave oven. Not my favorite thing to freeze but it’s possible if you need to with textural variations upon reheating.
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Roasted White Bean and Tomato Pasta
- Preheat oven to 400”F.
- Cut the ends off of the garlic cloves to expose the flesh but keep the paper on.
- In a high sided baking dish drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and the red pepper flakes.2 Tbsp olive oil, S & P to taste, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Add the tomatoes, garlic cloves, quartered lemons and rosemary sprigs or thyme to the baking dish. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and give everything a toss to coat.4 cups cherry tomatoes, 4-6 cloves garlic, 1 lemon, 2 sprigs rosemary
- Roast the tomatoes in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until they have burst and released their juices. (Don’t cook them down too much to avoid evaporating the sauce).
- Add the rinsed cannellini beans to the pan and give it a mix to coat. Bake another 5 minutes until the beans are heated through.14 oz can cannellini beans
- Add the baby spinach on top and turn off the oven. Allow everything to sit in the hot oven for another 5 minutes for the spinach to wilt. Remove the dish from the oven and using a spatula fold in the wilted spinach.2 cups baby spinach
- Discard the rosemary or thyme sprigs and transfer the roasted garlic cloves to a plate. (Note: If desired you can squeeze the garlic out of its paper while gently mashing it and mix back in with the tomatoes, it’s creamy and delicious).
- Meanwhile bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Season generously with coarse sea salt and cook the gnocchi according to directions on the package. The general consensus is that gnocchi is ready as soon as it floats to the top.1 lb gnocchi
- Drain in a colander or use a spider ladle and transfer the gnocchi straight from the pot into the baking dish with the roasted beans and tomatoes.
- Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and pepper, finish with a light drizzle of olive oil and serve with extra lemon wedges + red chili flakes on the side.
- On Pasta - If using a different pasta than the Gnocchi, only use 3/4 lb and adjust ratios from there.
- Cannellini Beans - You can go heavier on the beans if desire and up the quantity to 28 oz. The important thing to consider is not adding the beans until the tomatoes have burst.
- Garlic - Whole cloves in their paper with just the ends exposed to steam nicely and flavor the dish. After roasting you can squeeze them out of their paper and mash before adding back into the sauce, or just save to enjoy on bruschetta.