Whenever I think of pasta, my mind immediately turns to comfort food feasts of penne, rigatoni and spaghetti topped with slow cooked meaty sauces or a thick cheesy dressing that may or may not be accompanied by breadcrumbs and/or bacon. Not exactly heart healthy—or easy on the waistline—but utterly delicious none the less.
Fortunately for the overall health of my whole family, I’ve been rethinking my thoughts on pasta this summer, and instead of serving it so decadently I’ve been using it more sparingly in some of the simplest, yet more flavourful dinners we’ve been eating this season. For starters, I’ve cut the quantity that I use in half in most cases (a gigantic feat with two teenage sons in the house), and have replaced it with beans, lentils, and all the veggies I can find in my fridge. The result has been a surprisingly tasty one, and we’re now eating a lightened-up pasta-based dinner at least once a week in our house.
My favourite version of this simple summer supper is the one you see here today. It’s a short pasta and white bean combo, with kale, corn, pesto and cherry tomatoes. The recipe relies on a few basic pantry items and vegetables that are available in abundance at the market right now, and if that isn’t enough to convince you that this is a dish worth making, the fact that it can be served either warm or room temperature (meaning you can make it during naptime and leave it on the counter until you’re ready for dinner) should nudge you in the right direction.
While the dish is dead simple to make, I do have a few tips guaranteed to make it taste as good as possible. First, salt the pasta water really well. You’re going to be blanching the kale and the corn in the same pot and you want to make sure they’re on the receiving end of some flavour. Second, don’t waste your time using a pesto that isn’t bursting with flavour. You can make a homemade variety, or buy something from the store (both options are perfectly acceptable in my book), but whatever you do make sure you really like the flavour of the condiment you choose. Otherwise the dish won’t be that spectacular.
For the kids, you can tear the kale into teeny tiny pieces, if desired, or use a different vegetable altogether. The base of the recipe is here, but you can certainly tweak it to include the seasonal produce you’re family is fond of. And while I haven’t done this yet myself, if you do serve this cold feel free to add some chopped pecans or walnuts to the dish and call it a salad.
- ½ lb. (227g) dried fusilli
- 6 large chopped curly kale leaves, centre stems removed
- 2 ears corn on the cob, kernels scraped from the cob
- 1 (19 0z.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup pesto
- 1 cup tiny cherry tomatoes
Prep and Cook
- 1Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water accordingly to package directions.
- 2When the pasta has 1 minute left to cook, throw the kale and corn into the pot and stir once or twice.
- 3Drain the pasta and veg, and return to the pot. Add the beans, green onions, pesto and tomatoes and toss to combine. Serve hot or cold.