We may be late for Meatless Monday but we’d make this any day of the week
This is a wonderful dish. Especially if you are looking for plant-based recipes that pack a lot of flavor. And this rendition of what is basically a warm lemony pasta salad can be made as spicy as you like. Or, using a cautious hand with the red pepper flakes, you can tone it down. You can serve this dish straight from the stove but it also holds up well at room temperature. If you can’t find ditalini, the recipe says you can substitute any small tubular pasta. And what are the substitutes? Ditaloni, Tubettini, or Risoni, according to my sources. (Although if you can’t Ditalini, I am not sure how easy these are to find either.) The easiest substitute to find is good old Macaroni as small as they come.
We even learned a new technique. This dish is “cold-fried”.
The green beans, which are blanched for all of 5 minutes, join a handful of aromatic herbs of your choice and start the cooking process in cool olive oil. They come to a sizzle and brown up as the heat increases. What’s wonderful about this is that it’s a splatter-proof way of cooking them as opposed to dropping them into hot oil in a skillet. A word about the anchovies. I realize this is a taboo ingredient for many. But it shouldn’t be. Once these tiny fishes “dissolve”, they really salty flavoring and not those dried-out specimens atop a bad Caesar Salad.
A word about this recipe’s creator
This recipe first appeared last month in Bon Appetit. Its creator is named Shilpa Uskokovic. Now a Bon Appetit Food Editor, Shilpa is a veteran of any number of Michelin-starred New York Restaurants—Perry St., Jean-Georges, Marea, and The NoMad. She has a degree in Economics but her passion for food found her graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. She was born and raised in Chennai, India. Formerly called Madras, Chennai is one of the most fascinating culinary regions of India. It is home to an incredible variety of cuisines both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. It even has its own culinary definition: South Indian food blends all six different tastes—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Ms. Shilpa’s last name, Uskokovic, is that of her husband Miro whom she met at the Culinary Institute. Here’s the recipe and after it, some other ‘small pasta’ dishes.
Spicy Green Bean Ditalini with Caramelized Lemon
A warm lemony vegetarian pasta that you can make as spicy as you like.
- 1 large lemon
- 1 lb. green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt
- 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup coarsely chopped raw walnuts
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. drained capers
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 oz. ditalini or other small tube pasta
- 8 oz. bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls) or fresh mozzarella, torn into large pieces
- 1 cup coarsely chopped mixed tender herbs (such as dill, parsley, and/or chives)
- Step 1 Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest in wide strips from 1 large lemon, leaving as much white pith behind as possible. Thinly slice strips, then set aside. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Discard pulp and seeds. Set juice aside.
- Step 2 Cook 1 lb. green beans, trimmed, cut into 1″ pieces, in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beans to a large skillet. Keep water in the pot at a boil (pasta will be cooked in the same pot).
- Step 3 Add 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped, 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, 1 cup coarsely chopped raw walnuts, ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp. drained capers, 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, and reserved lemon zest to skillet. Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook green beans, tossing often, until blistered in spots, 5–8 minutes.
- Step 4 Meanwhile, cook 4 oz. ditalini or other small tube pasta in a pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain and return to pot.
- Step 5 Add green bean mixture and reserved lemon juice to pasta. Toss to combine. Gently mix in 8 oz. bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls) or fresh mozzarella, torn into large pieces, and ½ cup coarsely chopped mixed tender herbs (such as dill, parsley, and/or chives).
- Step 6 Divide pasta among shallow bowls and top with the remaining ½ cup of chopped herbs.
- Step 7 Do ahead: Pasta (without cheese and herbs) can be made 4 hours ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. Add cheese and herbs just before serving.