Lemony Pasta With Braised White Beans Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Updated Nov. 28, 2023

Lemony Pasta With Braised White Beans Recipe (1)

Total Time
30 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
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Braising canned white beans with garlic, chile flakes and olive oil is a classic recipe — a speedy, meatless, very satisfying weeknight meal. This version turns the mix into a sauce for pasta, brightened by lemon juice and zest, and rounded out with fresh parsley or arugula and cherry tomatoes, a juicy contrast to the velvety beans. The pasta water also plays an important role here, keeping the beans from becoming pasty. Use the best olive oil you can, especially for drizzling at the end. That’s where you’ll really taste it, and a robust, herbal oil will add a lot of character to this simple dish.

Featured in: This Easy Pantry Meal Puts Dreamy Pasta and Beans Front and Center

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • Salt
  • 1pound short pasta, such as shells or orecchiette
  • ½cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 1cup diced cherry or other ripe tomatoes
  • ¼teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more as needed
  • 2large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1lemon, zest finely grated
  • 2(15.5-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • cups chopped parsley or arugula leaves and tender stems
  • ½cup grated Parmesan, plus more as needed

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

725 calories; 25 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 16 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 100 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams dietary fiber; 8 grams sugars; 27 grams protein; 789 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Lemony Pasta With Braised White Beans Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    In a large pot of well-salted water, cook pasta according to package directions.

  2. As pasta cooks, in a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, the tomatoes and a pinch each of salt and red pepper, and toss to combine. Set aside to marinate.

  3. Step


    In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil over medium. Stir in shallots and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute, or until the edges just begin to turn golden brown. Add red pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, lemon zest, beans and 1 cup chopped parsley. Simmer, mashing some of the beans, until the sauce has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat as needed. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and red pepper if needed.

  4. Step


    Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta. Add pasta to white beans, along with remaining ½ cup chopped parsley, the juice of half a lemon, the grated Parmesan and ½ cup reserved pasta water. Toss until combined, adding more pasta water until the mixture is saucy. Toss in the tomatoes and their liquid. Taste, and add more salt and lemon juice if needed. Serve pasta in bowls drizzled with olive oil and topped with more grated Parmesan.



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Cooking Notes

louise mccormick

I often make variants of this dish using canned, petite diced tomatoes which are often more flavorful than those in the store as the winter wears on.


Very good and can make in 1/2 hour. Could start the pasta a little bit later. Made as directed, except used more parmesan in the end and did not drizzle evo on top in Step 4. Used full cup of pasta water and used some extra vegetable broth to make it a little more saucy. Used the juice of a whole lemon. Next time I will not fully drain the beans and not rinse, but add wet, mostly drained beans, perhaps creating a more saucy dish. Will add more tomatoes. This was a great flavorful one pot meal.

Chris H.

A great, flavorful dish for a cold winter's night. The word "sauce" threw me in step three. There is very little liquid involved at that point so it's really more of a mash or a paste in the bottom of the pan. I added a 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water at that point to loosen up the paste and make it easier to blend and move around. Followed the rest of the recipe to the letter. Really good stuff.


Pls don't use the liquid in the cans, there's a reason recipes calling for canned beans always start with "rinse the beans well". If at all possible, cook your own, and save the cooking water - it can be frozen if you aren't using it right away. However, people don't always have the time to cook beans, so I suggest using some vegetable broth instead.


I chopped the tomatoes with a bit of garlic, some fresh basil, all the lemon juice, and some of the hot pepper, along with about 2 T of goat cheese. Start the pasta a bit later. Mashing up the beans is not so easy once in the pan—do this before you add. I used a single can of beans but all the rest of everything for 2, and 1/2 pound pasta. No need to chop the arugula if it is the sort that comes in the bag from T Joe.A great one-pot meal.

Stone Fish

Good, simple dish. I will cut back on the amount of pasta next time I make it though, half or three-quarters of a pound would be ideal.


Hmmm... I have shrimp in the freezer. I think this might br a tasty addition.

Jackie Vaughn

I have in my pantry canned cherry tomatoes imported from Italy that I buy on Amazon. Excellent for this type of pasta. You can purchase both small and large cans. If you are near an Italian grocery story, I’m sure they have them.


Delicious! I made it adding arugula at end. I would omit the parsley next time.


Great recipe. The trick is to let the tomatoes marinate in the olive oil to release juices. I made it with roasted cherry tomatoes I had in my freezer. Drizzling oil before serving is a must it infuses flavor

Bree La Fin

I topped it with a jar of Tonnino tuna (tossed with fresh herbs and lemon juice) that was nearing it's best by date. Simple but almost elegant, we enjoyed.


You can probably use 1/3 cup and it would work out, or portion it into 8 servings instead of 6 (the serving amount in the nutrition facts). As is, 5g of saturated fat is 45 calories, and in this recipe that's only 6% of the calorie total per serving if divided into 6. Dietary Guidelines suggest less than 10% of daily calories come from saturated fats, so this recipe would fall in line with that. Plus, the 12g of fiber is very good! That's 48% of the daily rec for women and 32% for men.


Yes you "can"! :) There are many sources online for more info about aquafaba (both from canned and dried beans) that for whatever reason are disallowed from being copied/pasted into this thread.

Carol S.

I, too was thrown by the word "sauce" in step 3. From whence does sauce, thickened, manifest? Now I'm thrown by my own choice of English words, but I sure found myself sauceless, with the requisite drained beans and sautéed shallots and garlic and seasonings. Oh well, it came out great, especially after using all the pasta water.!

Brian Brooklyn

I rarely ever make a NYT recipe as written. Not that I add crazy ingredients or substitute things. But as a rule, I usually just look at the list of ingredients and think to myself “yeah. I can see how that should come together” and it usually works out ok!Tonight I made this recipe exactly as written just to test myself. And it was amazing! Make it just like it is written.

Amy from Boston

Just wonderful. Made a few tweaks - I had no fresh parsley so added 2 cups of green beans to the pasta water a few minutes before it was cooked. I used more tomatoes and crumbled a cube of feta into them. Juice of the whole lemon brightened it up nicely. Super quick and heavenly.

Name StillLearning

Made this on a weeknight. We enjoyed it, although it didn’t knock my socks off. I liked that it was pantry friendly - I followed other commenters and used canned diced tomato, as the fresh ones are out of season. Our store was out of arugula, had to use parsley, so perhaps that would have added more zing. And I agree with others that lots of lemon at the end makes a difference. Next time i might do as others suggested and add capers/olives instead of the tomato.


During the summer I freeze a lot of ripe tomatoes. They make a tastier, juicier dish than using store bought cherry tomatoes. Using them I don’t need any pasta water to make this dish “saucy”.

acid bomb

Should be noted that this dish is going to cause heartburn. I rarely have digestive issues but this was like swallowing hot sauce.


Freezes well!


I added about 1# of asparagus, which I sauteed after the shallots and before adding the garlic. 8 oz shell pasta and about 2 cups of tomatoes, juice of the whole lemon. The asparagus enhanced it. Generous use of pasta water so it wouldn't be dry. No other material changes. Very good, and even with 1/2 the pasta, it made a lot.

Rachel Joseph

I made this exactly as described but added about a 1/2 cup of diced preserved lemon for extra lemony salty goodness.

Ruth Grant

I used co*cktail tomatoes and blanched them briefly in order to remove the peels. I would use more tomatoes the next time I make it.


Favorite recipe to make on a weekday. Comes together really quickly with minimal dishes. I like to add cubed pancetta in the beginning to add more protein. Always overdo it with the cheese. In the morning, I reheat it with two fried eggs : )


This recipe was a big fail for me, which was surprising because usually Melissa doesn't disappoint. Like others, I was confused by how dry the beans were in step 3. It wasn't a sauce, and there definitely wasn't anything simmering or braising. It was more like a pan of refried beans. I added ½ c water while the pasta was cooking, but that didn't help much. I used probably 2 c of pasta water when tossing together at the end, and it was still very thick, not a nice velvety sauce. Won't make again.


It looked promising but was surprisingly not good. I don't know how shallots, garlic, pasta, beans, and lemon could be bad. We had to have a double portion of ice cream to make up for it.

Chef Carlos

Yes, very good. Served this with penne cooked 3/4 of the way. Finished cooking in the beans and everything else. Added fresh basil as a garnish. Use lots of Parmesan reggiano! Gigondas recommended


I adapted this adding anchovies, some cooked zucchini I had on hand plus arugula. Served on toast. Delicious and quick! The lemon zest is the key here, adding brightness. A keeper!


Delicious! I made it vegan by using Violife non-dairy Parmesan, also plan to add double the tomatoes and use about 3/4 of a lemon's juice.


Excellent weeknight vegetarian entree. Easy to make half the recipe for 2 people, with plenty of leftovers. Best to prep everything in advance, as shallots cook quickly. The beans don’t take very long to thicken so throw the pasta in boiling water when you add the beans.

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Lemony Pasta With Braised White Beans Recipe (2024)
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