Butter and cream are replaced with a generous amount of olive oil and white beans to make a sauce that feels just as comforting and fulfilling to eat but without being overly rich. The preserved lemons add a subtle citrus fragrance, whilst the toasted almonds add crunch, but you could use fried breadcrumbs instead. In the warmer months, try replacing the rosemary with basil and parsley, but add them at the end.
100g flaked almonds
1/2 vegetable stock cube
7tbsp Verdemanda Olive Oil, plus extra to finish the dish with
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped from the stalk and finely chopped
100ml white wine
2 400g tins cannellini/haricot beans, removed and drained from the tin and then rinsed under water
Salt and pepper
400g dried rigatoni pasta
½ tsp dried chilli flakes / hot paprika
Heat your oven to 160C. When hot, place the almonds on a baking tray and roast for 5-7 minutes, or until light golden, then take out and allow to cool.
Boil your kettle with at least 500ml of water in it. Place the stock cube in a jug or bowl and cover with around 400ml of hot water and stir to dissolve.
Start by making the sauce. Place a large frying pan on a low to medium heat and add the olive oil and the finely sliced garlic. Allow the heat to gently build up and the garlic to begin to sizzle and cook, until it is a pale golden colour. Have patience with this part of the recipe, as you don’t the garlic to turn bitter, but you do want the oil to gently infuse with the flavour of the garlic.
Add the rosemary and bay leaves and continue to gently cook for another 2 minutes, before adding the wine. Turn up the heat and let the wine reduce by around half to remove the alcohol. Now add the beans and season well with salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break the beans down to a rough mash then add around half of the stock. Bring the mix to a simmer then turn the heat down to medium, frequently stirring to avoid sticking, which it will do. It might look quite wet but it will continue to thicken up when cooked.
Prepare both preserved lemons by cutting into quarters, then separate the flesh and the skin by cutting between them. Discard the flesh, finely chop the skin, and then add half to the sauce, keeping the rest to sprinkle on top later. Stir the sauce and if it is very thick add more of the veg stock (different brands of beans sometimes need more or less liquid) to loosen. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. You can make this sauce ahead of time up to this point, but when reheating, will need to add some liquid to get it to loosen up.
Place a large pan of salted water on a high heat and cover with a lid. When boiling, add the pasta, stir to separate then turn down the heat. Follow the cooking instructions on the packet but rigatoni will usually take between 10-14 minutes.
Drain the pasta then place back into the sauce pan. Add the bean sauce to the pasta and stir well to coat. You may well need to add some more of the veg stock to get it to loosen up, so add a little more at a time till it has loosely coated the pasta. Now add some more olive oil, around 2 – 3 tbsp, so that it creates a glossy finish.
Immediately divide between plates then garnish with the reserved preserved lemon, toasted almonds and chilli flakes. If you have any spare chopped rosemary you can also add this too.