Creamy Pasta with White Bean Sauce

This recipe is inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe I saw a few weeks ago that looked like a delicious and dairy free way to achieve a creamy pasta sauce, using the cheap and hearty white bean. I love that this recipe doesn’t involve blending or any fancy tools or ingredients. Anyone can make this comforting vegan dish!
The highlight of the dish may be the aromatic spice-infused oil with toasted almonds that is drizzled on top at the end. The nutty crunch offsets the creamy sauce and adds the perfect amount of “kick” from garlic and crushed red pepper. You can use whatever nuts you have on hand, like almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts. Don’t skip this super delicious step!
I am so encouraged by this growing public consciousness around plant-based eating, and the fact that recipes like this one are being featured more and more on huge public outlets. It is possible to achieve creamy comfort without dairy and animal products. Truly, I hope this greater awareness helps more people realized that it is a healthier, more sustainable, more compassionate, and equally satisfying way to eat. Peace and love to you all!
1 cup dried baby lima beans (or 1 1/2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed)
1/2 box penne
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 lemon, zest and juice
salt and pepper
If using dried beans, soak overnight, rinse, and then simmer in plenty of lightly salted water for about an hour until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside.
When beans are ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add penne. Boil for two minutes less than the package directions (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Reserve two cups of pasta water before straining, and set aside. 
Meanwhile, in a large and deep skillet, add 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped almonds, crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 clove of garlic (minced) to the pan and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, until almonds have taken on color and the oil is aromatic. Be careful not to burn. Pour oil and nut mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Carefully wipe out skillet and return over medium heat, adding another 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add beans and rosemary and cook for 3 minutes before adding 1 cup of pasta water. Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush the beans until a smooth sauce is formed. 
At this point, the pasta should be ready — pour into the white bean sauce along with remaining 1 cup of pasta water. It may seem very soupy at this point, but it will thicken as it sits. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper and stir to coat the pasta in the sauce. Remove from heat and add the zest and juice of the lemon, and drizzle with the oil and almond mixture. Serve immediately. 
Serves 3

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