A Hearty Low-Budget One-Pot Meal

January 15, 2015 Updated: January 15, 2015

Time to get your new Dutch oven broken in or the old one out for this hearty, flavourful one-pot meal. It’s a no-hassle experience. A soup pot works well too.

Pasta with White Beans, Bacon, and Spinach

Makes 4 to 5 servings

3 to 4 thick bacon slices, cut into 1 cm (1/2- inch) cubes
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 ml (1/4 tsp) garlic powder)
1 ml (1/4 tsp) olive oil
2 cans 425 g (15-oz) drained cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) vegetable broth (see tip below)
10 ml (2 tsp) dried thyme
10 ml (2 tsp) salt
Pinch (1/8 tsp) pepper
250 to 295 ml (8 to 10 oz) fresh baby spinach
300 g (1 1/4 cup) multi-flavoured vegetable bow-tie pasta (such as tomato, beet and spinach)

Step 1: Oil the interior of a Dutch oven with olive oil on a paper towel. Set the burner to medium, add the bacon and cook thoroughly. Remove the bacon and leave a couple of teaspoons of bacon grease in the pan. Trim any fat from the bacon pieces.

Step 2: Slowly cook the onions until caramelized and golden (about 15 minutes). Add celery and cook until soft (about 3 minutes). Add garlic and cook for less than a minute. Add drained beans, broth, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Step 3: Quickly rinse the spinach, and pinch off any large, thick stems. Tear into pieces and add to the pot.

Step 4: In a separate pot, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Keep the pasta covered with just enough water so that all of it is submerged. Add more water if needed to completely cook the pasta. Drain the pasta and mix together with the beans. Serve while hot.

Tip: The choice of vegetable broth is important to bring out the flavour. My preference for this recipe is Better Than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base, which comes in a glass jar.

Variation: For a vegetarian meal, substitute the bacon with 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil.

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