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At Supper restaurant in the East Village, they treat every table to a bowl of white beans soaked in garlicky olive oil. Piled onto bread, these beans may very well be one of the best dishes the restaurant has to offer. (Though you shouldn't miss the Priest Stranglers or the perfect roast chicken.) I learned to reproduce those beans for a quick appetizer by trial and error when I first moved to the city, and "the bean thing" has since become a staple in our household. Having a can of white beans and a head of garlic around means I'll never be without a snack for surprise vistors, or short on food for a party.
But a girl cannot live on bread and beans alone, so I whipped up an extended remix, full-meal version here. Garlic, beans, and olive oil are still the stars of the show, but this hearty dish has a bit more to offer: salty sausage, fresh herbs, and sweet leeks flavor the pasta. A squeeze of lemon and a shaving of parmesan finish it off.
You may have everything in your pantry and freezer to make this right now. You may even be trying the eat-down-the-pantry challenge that everyone's writing about on Egullet and The Washington Post. Here is my offering to those watching their budgets and to those whose tiny apartment freezers and pantries are just too crowded. Just make sure anyone you might want to kiss has a bite of the garlicky stuff too.
Orzo with Garlicky White Beans and Chicken Sausage
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped roughly
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves, washed and torn
1/2 tsp fresh oregano leaves
2 or 3 leeks, washed carefully and chopped
3 spicy italian chicken sausages, sliced in rounds (the ones I used were fully cooked)
1/2 cup wine or pasta water
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 lb orzo
parmesan and lemon wedges for serving
In a large saute pan or 3.5 qt dutch oven, saute garlic, sage, and oregano in olive oil until garlic begins to turn translucent. Add leeks and saute several minutes until softened. Meanwhile, boil water for the orzo. When leeks are softened, push them to the side of the pan. Add sliced sausages to open space and cook, turning occasionally, until brown (if you started with raw sausages, check to make sure sausage looks cooked through.) Salt pasta water generously and cook pasta according to package directions. Deglaze saute pan with wine or pasta water ladled from the cooking pasta. Add beans, cook 10 minutes. When pasta is cooked al dente, add to bean mixture and toss. Salt generously and serve with parmesan and a lemon wedge for squeezing.