Quick and Dirty Pasta

Are you in love with Lidia Bastianich, too?

I gave my father one of her cookbooks many years back but it sat on a shelf untouched for quite some time. When he finally remembered the gift and cracked open those pages, it seemed that his entire cooking philosophy changed.

Well, that may be a bit dramatic. What is true, though, is that we learned that pasta does not need to be a heaping pile of spaghetti, completely smothered in heavy meat sauce and drowning in tomato juice. I love pasta and meatballs just as much as any other Italian American girl but Lidia has shown us that pasta can be light, refreshing, and refined.

One of Lidia’s greatest lessons is how to make a fantastic meal in the time that it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. Her secret? While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. The sauce can be tomato-based but sometimes pasta tossed with really great olive oil, garlic, and fresh lemon juice is just what the evening calls for.

My dinner from the other night was thrown together in 20 minutes before I ran out the door to yoga. When I returned from class, dripping in sweat and shaking with exhaustion, I had a dish that reheated beautifully and made me feel rejuvenated and strong.

How many times have you heard the word “rejuvenation” when describing a pasta dish? That’s Lidia for you. Grazie mille, bella.

Quick and Dirty Pasta: Vegetable Conchigliette with Cannellini Beans

Serves 2


  • 1.5 cups dried whole wheat conchigliette (small shells)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup classic tomato basil sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino (red pepper flakes)
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (I used unsalted Eden’s organic)
  • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped into small florets


  • Bring a pot of water to boil (enough for the 1.5 cups of pasta). When the water begins to boil, add the conchigliette and cook according to the package’s instructions.
  • While the water heats, heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until soft – the onions will begin to look translucent.
  • Add the garlic and stir for about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and the peperoncino. Now stir in the beans. Reduce the flame to medium-low and allow the sauce to come together while the pasta cooks.
  • When the pasta has about 5 minutes left until al dente, add the broccoli florets directly to the pasta water.
  • When the pasta is fully-cooked, drain in a strainer along with the broccoli. Then add the pasta and broccoli directly to the pan with the tomato sauce and toss gently.
  • Serve with a bit of pecorino-romano cheese grated on top.


2 Comments to “Quick and Dirty Pasta”

  1. Like to have broccoli in my pasta!
    For more interesting recipes, check at:
    Hope you find recipes that you like.

  2. Loved reading this…now to try the dish.

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