A few days after I wrote the last post about antibiotic-filled cheap meat, I learned about the largest beef recall to happen in history — 134 tons of beef from the Hallmark/Westland Packing Plant, including a good portion of meat sold and used in school lunches. Lovely.
The plant was closed for investigation after Humane Society footage showed workers using cruel and inhumane efforts to move downed cows into the slaughterhouse for processing. The footage was disturbing for a couple reasons. There’s the obvious cruelty factor behind the story — can you enjoy your Beef Burgandy knowing the suffering that happened behind the scenes? But there’s also the health risk of processing and selling meat from cows too sick or injured to walk on their own. The processing of downed cows is supposed to be banned because falling down can be a symptom of Mad Cow Disease. “Supposed to be” banned.
Although we have a half-freezer full of beef (locally raised, fully grass-fed, antibiotic-free), I decided to go vegetarian for lunch yesterday while Tommy and I were home with strep throat. This recipe came from a blog I love, Adam Roberts’ The Amateur Gourmet. (If you head to the site, check out his classic post on the Janet Jackson Breast cupcakes following the Unfortunate SuperBowl Incident; that post still makes me laugh.) Adam got the recipe from Lydia Bastiniach of Lydia’s Italy, and it’s inexpensive and easy and delicious and makes great leftovers. And best of all, no downed cannellini beans are harmed in its creation.
Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans
– 1 lb. pasta (rotini, penne, cavatappi — whatever’s on sale)
– 1 smallish can sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (I buy SD tomatoes in bulk at Costco and put them in my own olive oil); you’ll need about 1 cup tomatoes, drained and sliced into 1/4-inch strips, as well as 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil
– 3 Tbsp. olive oil (2 Tbsp. now, 1 Tbsp. later)
– 4 big cloves garlic, thinly sliced
– 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
– 1 15- or 16-oz. can cannellini beans
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1/2 cup Parmesan or other grated cheese
– Chopped fresh parsley (totally optional)
Start the pasta cooking; do note that you’ll only be cooking the pasta partway and you’ll be using about 2-1/2 cups of the pasta water later, so don’t get crazy and cook the pasta to doneness and throw out the water.
Meanwhile, in a good-sized skillet, over medium-high heat, warm up 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. olive oil from the tomatoes. Now throw in the garlic and stir around for a minute or so. Next add the crushed red pepper and stir around for another half minute or so. Add the drained and sliced sun-dried tomatoes; spread them out and let them cook a bit, and then throw in 1 cup of the water from the pasta cooking. Simmer this until the sauce reduces by about half. Now throw in the cannellini beans, salt, and another 1-1/2 cups of pasta water, bring this to a boil, turn down the heat slightly, and let it bubble for about 4 minutes.
Sometime around now, the pasta should be al dente, and you can drain it and add it to the sauce to finish cooking in the sauce. When the pasta’s at the level you like, add the cheese and, if you like, the parsley.