Recipes | Creamy cannellini and fennel pasta


Creamy cannellini and fennel pasta

A clever little recipe from Jack Monroe's brilliant new book Cooking on a Bootstrap which would be perfect for a shared student house or anyone on a tight budget.

Jack - a celebrated anti-poverty campaigner has first hand experience of living on the breadline but she also has the ingenuity to create delicious food out of simple, cheap ingredients - this one is particularly impressive as it makes a creamy carbonara-style sauce out of a can of cannellini beans.

Jack writes: This pasta dish is packed with protein, but also a very good healthy substitute for cream-packed pasta dishes. As with all bean-based dishes, they benefit from a long, slow cook, so the more time you have to give this, the better the results.

Creamy cannellini and fennel pasta

Serves 3-4

1 large onion (about 200g), finely sliced

2–4 fat garlic cloves (depending on how much of a fan you are), minced or finely chopped

2 tbsp oil

a pinch of salt

¼ tsp fennel seeds

1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (240g drained weight)

2 tbsp lemon juice

a few sprigs of parsley or herb of your choice, to finish

cooked pasta of your choice, to serve (I'd suggest about 300g dried weight)

1 Pop the onion and garlic into a large saucepan with the oil. Bring to gentle heat, add a pinch of salt and the fennel seeds and stir lovingly. There’s a lot of love going into this dish along the way, it’s got the subtle soothing nature of a risotto, so clear the decks and use it as a de-stresser while you stand and stir.

2 Toss the cannellini beans into the pan, squeeze the lemon juice over the top, and cook on low heat for 10 minutes to soften the onions.

3 Add 200ml cold water, then turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stir, and leave to cook for another 10 minutes. The cannellinis should start to break down and self-purée, thickening the sauce. Stir well and gradually add another 200ml water (you might not need all of it) until most of the beans have broken down and you’re left with a soft, creamy, sweet, garlicky, comforting gorgeous sauce. Stir through the herbs.

4 Stir through your pasta, or allow to cool, spoon into jars or other containers, label and pop in the fridge until dinner time.


• Fennel seeds are not essential if they aren’t the sort of thing you have lying around but I’m a Big Fan of them – as a store-cupboard spice, a couple of little fennel seeds go a long, long way.

What to drink: Keeping to the budget theme get in the habit of replacing white wine with dry cider. Much cheaper and better than most cheap whites on the market.

Extracted from Cooking on a Bootstrap by Jack Monroe published by Bluebird Books at £15.99. You can get 40% off this price if you order it through her blog and/or order one for a foodbank (again with a 40% discount) by entering the code FBNK2808 on this site.

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