Everybody needs an easy weeknight dinner standby

What’s yours?

Mine is Tortellini with Watercress, White Beans and Pine Nuts. I ripped the recipe out of the May 2005 Vegetarian Times. Its oil splatters and other food stains say clearly that this is a favorite around here.

When it’s Monday (Dana’s night in the kitchen) or when I’m home alone, it makes an easy, filling and maybe even a little bit healthy dinner. It leans way more on the “open and heat” side than I usually like, but sometimes (like after a day of Christmas shopping today) that’s all you feel like doing.

I often (like tonight) use spinach instead of the watercress called for. And here’s a budget tip — buy your spinach from the salad bar. It cost me five cents at Kroger for the spinach in this dish. Though that said, I should have bought 3-4 times as much, the way spinach wilts to nothing.

Here’s the recipe (I usually half it):

Tortellini with Watercress, White Beans and Pine Nuts

2 9-oz. pkg. fresh cheese tortellini
2 Tbs. finely chopped oil-packed
sun-dried tomatoes plus
3 Tbs. of the oil
4 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper,
or more to taste
4 bunches watercress,
well rinsed and tough
stems removed
1 cup vegetable broth or
pasta water, or more as needed
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper to taste
2 15.5-0z. cans cannellini beans,
drained and rinsed
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Grated regular or soy Parmesan
cheese, as desired

1. Cook tortellini in large pot of
lightly salted boiling water, stirring
occasionally, according to package
directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of
pasta water, if using instead of broth.
Toss pasta with 1 Tbs. sun-dried
tomato oil, and set aside.

2. Heat remaining oil in same pot over
medium heat. Add shallots and garlic,
and cook until softened, about
2 minutes. Stir in crushed red pepper.

3. Add watercress to pot with broth,
sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Cook until watercress is limp but still
bright green, about 2 minutes. Stir in
beans, and heat through for 1 minute.
Add reserved pasta, and toss gently to
combine. Sprinkle with toasted pine
nuts and cheese, and serve. Pass
additional Parmesan at the table.

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2 responses to “Everybody needs an easy weeknight dinner standby

  1. Thanks for the sharing the recipe. It sounds yummy. I will definitely try it. But most of all thanks for the spinach tip – what a great idea. I never use an entire bag and it seems like such a waste.

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