Color & Control:

Pesto Pasta With White Beans and Halloumi

This vegetarian weeknight dinner comes together in under an hour and is made super special with the addition of halloumi. It looks like a fluffy cloud when grated, and it gives the pasta just the right amount of salty tang. Be sure to use a very fine grater, like a Microplane, when you prepare the halloumi, as it will only add to the fluffy effect (which is what you’re after). This is a full meal in its own right, but you can also serve it alongside a big green salad.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes


For the Pasta:

⅓ cup/75 milliliters olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium green serrano chile, stemmed and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 (15.5-ounce/400-gram) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups (about 9 ounces/250 grams) short, twirled pasta, preferably gemelli or trofie pasta
3 cups/700 milliliters chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher salt and black pepper
¼ cup/60 milliliters lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1 block halloumi (around 7 ounces/200 grams), very finely grated

For the Arugula (Rocket) Pesto:

Heaping 1/3 cup/50 grams pine nuts, well toasted
2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 lightly packed cups (about 2 ounces/60 grams) arugula (rocket), roughly chopped
½ cup/20 grams roughly chopped parsley (leaves and tender stems only)
⅓ cup/90 milliliters olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and black pepper


Prepare the pasta: Add the oil to a large, lidded sauté pan, and then place it over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and chile, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the garlic is nicely golden. Stir in the thyme, beans, pasta, stock, 2 teaspoons salt and plenty of pepper, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, with the lid off, for about 5 to 10 minutes. This will help it absorb more of the liquid.

As the pasta cooks, make the pesto: To a food processor, add the nuts, garlic, arugula (rocket), parsley, half the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Pulse a few times, scraping down the sides and pulsing again until you have a coarse paste. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the remaining olive oil, adding a touch extra if needed to loosen the pesto.

When ready to serve, stir the lemon juice and half the pesto into the pasta (discard the chile, if you wish) and transfer to a large serving bowl or platter with a lip. Sprinkle over about half the halloumi, and serve with the extra halloumi and pesto to eat alongside.


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