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I recently got home from a long weekend vacation. It was late enough in the evening that I didn’t want to go to the store and early enough that I was still hungry for dinner. After traveling all day, I just wanted something comforting, easy and tasty. After a quick survey of the fridge, I realized I had a bunch of chard hanging out in the bottom bin that still had some life to it and a little Fresno chili that looked good. A stop at the pantry revealed some good quality short cut pasta and a can of white beans. A little protein, a little vegetable and a little carbs — dinner was born.

I love mixing beans and pasta together. It may seem a bit unusual, but it’s a great way to reduce the amount of pasta I’m eating and sneak in some fiber and protein. Plus the creaminess of the white beans really adds a nice texture contrast to a simple pasta dish. Here’s what I did:

Chard & White Bean Pasta

serves 2

1 1/2 cups short cut pasta (penne works great here)

olive oil

2 tbl sliced garlic

1 Fresno chili, sliced (take the seeds out if you don’t like the heat)

1 tbl pinenuts

1 15 oz can white beans

4-6 cups chopped chard (discard the bottom woody part of the stems and use the rest)

2 oz crumbled feta

Bring a  pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a small handful of salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook accordingly to the package instructions — cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil.

Add the garlic, chili and pinenuts. Cook for a 3-4 minutes until beginning to brown slightly. Add the beans. Cook over high heat, tossing a few times, until the beans become crispy in some places.

Add the chard and cook for 2-3 minutes just until the chard wilts. Remove from heat.

When the pasta is done, scoop from the pot directly into the pan along with about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss together.

Serve hot, topped with crumbled feta and plenty of black pepper.

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