Orecchiette with Spinach and Butter Beans is an easy weeknight dinner that is full of protein, veggies, and delicious pasta!
Are you thinking about back to school yet?
As a homeschooling family there’s always a lot to prepare and decide by the end of the summer. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it all in the last week and I’m sure it will take me a few more weeks until I feel ready.
We usually start school by the last week of August or so because we like to ease into it, take things slow, and be done by the middle of May. There’s also sports and other activities to think about and register for.
I’m not overwhelmed, you’re overwhelmed. (I’m overwhelmed.)
So maybe I need easy weeknight dinners less during those busy school days and more during these busy planning days. I’m excited to share with you today one of the easiest dinner ideas that’s honestly perfect for any time of year!
Are you familiar with orecchiette? Legend has it that it gets it’s name by being shaped like a little ear. I like to think of it as the tiniest delicate cup, but you can use your imagination to make it whatever you want.
I had to buy a fancier type of pasta (ahem, more expensive) than I usually buy in order to find orecchiette, but it’s really worth it because there are so few ingredients in this dish and high quality pasta really makes it.
The orecchiette nestles these baby butter beans so perfectly and the spinach curls around it. Remember my obsession with canned butter beans? The saga continues.
Butter beans are just so creamy and flavorful. I like adding a bit of Parmesan cheese (you can usually find a vegetarian version, I like BelGioioso) and a sprinkle or two of nutmeg, which brings out the flavor of the spinach.
Let’s talk about panfried pasta for a second. Reserve about half a cup of the water you cooked the pasta in, which is full of starches and will help everything come together.
The starches caramelize and crisp on the edges of the pasta into the most delicious taste and texture. I also love how the beans get a little crispy!
This orecchiette with spinach and butter beans can be easily customized! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Swap the baby butter beans for large butter beans or another white bean such as great northern or cannellini
- Double the spinach for extra leafy greens
- Swap the spinach for another leafy green such as kale, arugula, or or chard
- Use small or medium shell pasta in place of the orecchiette
- Use leftover spinach and white beans in place of everything but the orecchiette, adding olive oil as needed
If you make this recipe be sure to rate it, leave a comment, or tag #theliveinkitchen on Instagram!
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 16 ounces canned baby butter beans rinsed and drained
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 16 ounces orecchiette
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook orecchiette according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water at the end of cooking. Drain the pasta and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and just beginning to turn golden, about 1 minute.
Add the butter beans and spinach and continue to cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 more minute.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan along with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook, stirring, for two minutes.
Add the parmesan to the pan. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is crispy and browned on the edges, about 8 minutes more.
Serve with an extra sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes and nutmeg if desired. This is delicious served warm or at room temperature.