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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Penne with Cannellini and Greens

For less than $10, you can make this healthy and economical pasta dish for your family.

penne or mostaccioli with beans, tomatoes, arugula, spinach, onion, garlic in a blue skillet
Penne with Cannellini and Greens

We’ve all felt the pinch of inflation. Let’s be real; last year was a tough one. Higher grocery prices are challenging many families, and (sadly) some feel the grip more acutely than others. NBC news reported in September that grocery costs were up over 13 percent in the last year.

Like many of you, I tried to make my money work harder for me by picking up a few tricks and experimenting with some tasty (and economical) recipes. I’ll pass along the tips through the month with you, but here's a recipe I think is a keeper. Penne with Cannellini and Greens, inspired by a recipe from the Canned Food Alliance, will feed four or five adults for—get this—under $10! In addition, it’s healthier than most pasta dinners, comes together in about 30 minutes, and fills your tummy with good things.

Cooking more plant-based meals can shave your grocery bill. I’m trying to eat at least one or two meat-free dinners per week. When I do have beef, pork, fish, or chicken, I trim the portions and find recipes to make it go further.

Because I didn’t grow up eating meatless meals, I had to do a little homework and purchased a few vegetarian cookbooks from my favorite chefs. The experimentation has been fun!

Another trick to stretching your grocery budget is keeping a well-stocked and hard-working pantry. If you need any inspiration, several home cooks shared their must-have pantry ingredients a few years ago. Penne with Cannellini and Greens is a great pantry recipe. The beans are a healthy protein and give this dish a creamy richness. Parsley and a bit of grated Parmesan finish the recipe. Let’s get cooking!

To make Penne with Cannellini and Greens, which yields four or five servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 16 ounces penne (1 pound box)

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 5 ounces mixed greens with arugula and spinach

  • 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

  • 2/3 cup white wine

  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

  • Salt and pepper to taste

While the pasta is cooking, bring a large skillet (the bigger, the better; this makes a lot of pasta) up to medium-high heat and add oil. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes; it will start to turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute (watch the garlic doesn’t brown).

Add the greens; these will wilt quickly. The market’s produce section has tubs of different salad greens; I used an arugula and spinach mixed. If you find escarole, the original recipe included this.

Next come the wine, beans, and tomatoes with juice. Simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I use my spider skimmer to transfer cooked pasta into the skillet. Stir in Parmesan and add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to create a light sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. For extra richness (this is optional), add a tablespoon or two of butter.

If you don’t need four servings, cook ¾ of the pasta (about 12 ounces), but follow the rest of the recipe. Leftovers the next day are perfect for a lunch, but I wouldn’t recommend freezing this dish because of the delicate wilted greens.

This is a great weeknight dinner that’s light on the wallet and tummy. Honestly, after all the holiday sweets, roasts, casseroles, and so on, this was a welcome change for me. I hope you’ll give it a try; let me know in the comments below how your dish turned out. If you have a good vegetarian recipe to share with us, include that in the comments, too! We all need inspiration from time to time.


Looking for more hearty meatless dishes? Here are three for you to try!

Easy Zucchini Pie is a tasty part to brunch, lunch, or dinner, making use of this versatile vegetable that's available year-round. Another fast meal for a weeknight menu is Easy Baked Ravioli. Opt for the cheese-filled pasta and a simple marinara to keep it meatless. Tricolor Pasta with Roaster Butternut Squash is another meal that comes together in a flash. Save even more time by purchasing the squash already cleaned and cubed.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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