Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ceci Beans & Kale with Whole Grain Spaghetti

It's a funny thing: you can know something, say that eating meat is not great for the environment, and you sort of don't let it register. You keep it in an intellectual place in your mind, one that you can recall, but not one that resonates on an emotional, active level. But then you read something, or have a new experience, and it pops back to the frontal section of your consciousness. That's what happened to me recently. A confirmed meat-eater, I was struck when I read about Mark Bittman's new book Food Matters, in which he draws parallels between diet, health, climate change and basic sanity. He basically reminds us that industrial raising of meat and fish is devastating not only for the animals and the workers, but the planet. This information is nothing new to me, but somehow reading his words, I feel newly committed to more plants, less meat, and get my meat sourced from more ethical outlets.

Before my new found sense of food justice leaves me, I wanted to create a new meat-free recipe, one that utilizes ceci (garbanzo) beans cooked in water perfumed with sage and rosemary and hearty Tuscan kale. Served up with multigrain pasta and a generous amount of freshly grated parmasean cheese, it's hearty enough to satisfy many a carnivore like myself.

Ceci Bean & Kale Pasta
serves 2 adults and 2 kids

1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight
2 large sprigs of rosemary
12 sage leaves

1/2 pound whole grain spaghetti (I like Barilla Brand)

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper

1 bunch Tuscan kale (also called lacinto or black), cleaned and chopped
a couple of splashes of white wine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing at the table

Cook beans. Drain soaking water. Fill large pot with fresh water, beans, rosemary and half the sage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender but not mushy; about one hour.

Once beans are done, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, melt butter and olive oil in a large saute pan or pot. Add garlic and cooked garbanzo beans. Heat beans until nicely colored, then add the remainder of the sage and saute for one minute. Add kale, wine and reserved cooking liquid to the pan. Simmer, stirring the whole time until kale is tender. Add pasta, cheese and salt and pepper to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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