1 medium onion, minced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Italian-style veggie sausage, sliced or diced (Optional--I used this and think I'd actually prefer it with just beans, but go for it if you have a sausage you really like)
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. smoked paprika
red pepper flakes to taste
Salt if you want it, but I didn't need it with pre-salted tomatoes and sausage
a good glug of dry red wine
1/4 cup (or more) diced red pepper (add with the onions if raw; add later if roasted/jarred*)
15-oz. can of cannellini or similar beans, drained and rinsed
15-oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes, diced or crushed
8 oz. pasta in a medium-size shape, cooked and drained. I used whole-wheat shells; fusilli/penne/rotini would be good, too.
Breadcrumb topping: one slice stale/dry bread whizzed to crumbs along with 2 Tbsp parmesan sub. I use a mix of roughly 2/3 cup raw walnuts plus 1/3 cup nutritional yeast plus 1/4 tsp. salt, whizzed separately to fine crumbs.
In a large skillet or saute pan over medium-low heat, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until soft and golden. Don't skimp on this--the flavor of the caramelized onion is really wonderful in this dish. Add the herbs and the sausage (if using), and saute 2 minutes more. Add the wine, pepper, beans and tomatoes, and stir well. Cover and simmer while you cook the pasta and preheat the oven to 350.
When the pasta is done, add it to the bean mixture and stir well to coat the pasta. It should be just a little soupy at this point. Transfer to a casserole dish (or just use the skillet if it's oven-proof), and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle on the breadcrumb mixture. Return to oven, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until crumbs start to brown.
Makes 3 entree-size servings or as many as 6 sides.
* When I open a jar of roasted peppers I take them all out, drain, dice, and then repackage whatever I'm not using right away in Ziploc bags to freeze (1/2 cup per snack-size bag or 1 cup per sandwich size. Mush out flat and squeeze out the air before sealing and freezing flat). Easy to thaw and use quickly or even snap off just a piece if I only want a little bit.