Good-Luck Pasta and Beans
Happy New Year! Southern tradition holds that the first foods to be eaten on New Year’s Day should be black-eyed peas—kidney-shaped spotted beans—for luck and leafy greens for wealth. For me, pasta, beans, and greens are something you can eat all the time, not only because they’re healthy but also because it’s a marriage that always works: The escarole’s bitterness counters the gentle sweetness of beans and pasta. This is a stew, not a soup, so add only enough water to cook the pasta and greens. If you have leftovers, just re-heat them with a tad more water.
- 1 onion
- 6 ounces carrots
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil*
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups black eyed peas
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 pound escarole
- 2 ounces rotelle
- *not included
Trim, peel, and chop the onion. Rinse the carrots and celery. Trim and peel the carrots, and slice crosswise into 1/2-inch thick coins. Trim the celery and cut it crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Chop the garlic.
Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, carrots, and celery and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, beans and bay leaf with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down 10 to 15 minutes.
Rinse and dry the escarole and tear or cut the leaves into bite-size pieces. When the tomatoes are ready, remove the bay leaves and add the greens and pasta. Return the liquid to a steady bubble; cook, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1/4 cup at a time, if the mixture starts to look dry.
Start checking the pasta after 7 minutes. The stew is ready when the pasta is just tender and the escarole has softened. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide the stew between 2 bowls and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.