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Dinner Rush! Beans & Greens Spaghetti

It’s now week two of the “Resolution Stretch.” How you holding up?  I know, I’d rather we call them long term goals, too.  How about a quick and healthy dinner plan to get “two birds with one stone” ahead of the game?


The combo of cooked beans and hearty greens is a pretty classic one in Italian home cooking.  The beauty of it, really, is that you can easily make a super hearty dinner for four (or even a few more) that is nutritionally balanced, ready in no time and light on the wallet.

Reach for whatever cooking greens your grocery store has around – mine happened to have some beautiful escarole and rainbow chard so I went with a combination of the two.  Anything will work. Although you’d never know it from the depth of flavor, this recipe is also vegetarian. If you prefer a bit of meat with your dinner, go ahead and crisp up some pancetta, bacon, or their leaner Canadian cousin and add that to the mix too.

You’re saving money, time and calories all in one dish.  Go on, you Resolution Rockstar.

Beans & Greens Spaghetti

Yield:  4 to 6 servings
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Active Time:  10 minutes
Total Time:  25 minutes

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch or small head of cooking greens (such as escarole, Swiss chard, or kale), washed and roughly chopped (about 5 cups)
1 (15- to 19-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and ground black pepper
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
Shaved parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta to the water and cook to al dente according to package directions. Before draining the cooked pasta, reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking water from the pot. Drain the cooked pasta well and reserve.

While the pasta is cooking, place a large high-sided skillet over moderate heat with the olive oil.  Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and cook until tender and aromatic, about 2 minutes.  Add the greens and beans to the skillet along with the reserved 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water, season with salt and pepper and place a lid on the skillet. Cook the greens, stirring occasionally, until wilted and heated through, about 5 minutes.

When the pasta and greens are both ready, toss them together along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil. Serve the pasta garnished with shaved parmesan cheese, if desired.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars like Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest tweets on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at


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