Easy Peasy Pantry Pasta for a Lazy Friday Night

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Friday night is calling for pasta, so head to your pantry and make it happen.  All you need are beans, peppers, tomato paste and your favorite tube pasta, plus some herbs and spices that will round everything out.

But what will send this over the top are the garlicky breadcrumbs that taste like garlic bread. I prefer panko breadcrumbs – I like their larger flake and their crunch – but use whatever you have on hand, or make yourself. They provide that extra something, giving the pasta another dimension.  No red sauce here, just the chopped roasted red peppers and tomato paste which are rendered thicker due to the addition of the white beans.

The other ingredient that will make your pasta go upscale is lemon zest which just brightens everything up. Optional is lemon juice that you squeeze on the finished product before serving.  You may want to skip it, but the dish loses something, a balancing touch.

The team at Epicuroius just know how to elevate simple dishes! This pasta serves 4.

INGREDIENTS

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
⅔ cup breadcrumbs (fresh, dried, or panko, but I prefer panko)
4 garlic cloves, finely grated, divided
1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
1 lb. ziti, rigatoni, cavatelli, or other medium tube pasta
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 whole roasted red peppers from a jar (about one 16-oz. jar), finely chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 (15-oz.) can white beans (such as navy or cannellini), rinsed
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges (for serving; optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Add breadcrumbs, half of the garlic, and ½ tsp. salt and cook, stirring constantly to incorporate the garlic, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes, careful not to burn it. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in parsley. Wipe out and reserve pot.
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, according to package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid (this step is important!)
  3. Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in reserved pot over medium-high. Cook onion, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until slightly softened, 6–8 minutes. Add roasted red peppers, remaining garlic, and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until any liquid is evaporated and vegetables are combined and glossy looking, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are coated and paste is slightly darkened in color, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes to pot; season with black pepper. Cook, smashing beans and stirring to combine with spoon, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and gradually add reserved pasta cooking liquid (you might not need all of it), stirring and mashing as you go, until combined and sauce is thick. Remove from heat and immediately add pasta; toss to coat.
  5. Divide pasta among four bowls. Drizzle with some good olive oil and spoon the garlicky breadcrumbs on top. Squeeze some lemon juice over if desired (I highly recommend you do so.)

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