Pesto Pasta w/Black beans & Broccoli Rabe

I first made this recipe several years ago as an adaptation of the Italian spaghetti with white beans. I’ve since made several versions of bean+pasta combinations, and this version with black beans came up from needing to make an under 30 minute, using pantry ingredients, that’s easy to put together any day of the week.

My husband and I are huge broccoli rabe fans. If you haven’t had them, you must! They’re slightly bitter, but in a great vegetal way. They taste like a cross between a dark leafy mustard green and broccoli. The bitterness of the greens is largely reduced when stir fried with other veggies, and tossed into pasta. They’re absolutely delicious!

This recipe has creamy black beans, assertive broccoli rabe, sweet roasted red bell peppers all tossed in with fragrant basil pesto. An absolute delight!


Using ingredients that you probably already have, or easily available, this delicious meal comes together in under 30 minutes!

It’s also rather versatile. Don’t have black beans, use chickpeas, or kidney beans. Don’t have broccoli rabe? Use asparagus, or broccoli, or kale. Don’t have roasted bell peppers, use any sweet pepper you have on hand. The flavors will all still work together!

Let’s get cooking.

serves 4-6
1 box chickpea pasta, spaghetti (Use any kind of pasta you like)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed or ~3/4 cup
2 roasted red bell peppers, chopped (I used the store bought ones from a bottle)
2 cups chopped broccoli rabe (washed thoroughly)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp red chilli flakes
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp coarse salt
2 tbsp basil pesto (I used store bought vegan pesto)
2 tbsp olive oil
a few fresh basil leaves for topping (optional)

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. After a few seconds, add garlic, dried basil and red chilli flakes. Saute for 30 seconds, and drop in the chopped broccoli rabe. Add half of the measured salt, and toss together. Cook for 5 minutes.

In the meanwhile, drain the canned black beans, and rinse under running water well. Remove two roasted bell peppers from the bottle, and chop them up. If using already diced peppers from a jar, use about 1/2 cup.

Add the black beans and red bell peppers to the cooked broccoli rabe mixture.


Saute everything together and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

In the meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Drop the pasta in and cook according to package instructions. My chickpea spaghetti only needed 7 minutes. I would recommend undercooking your pasta by a minute, because they’ll continue to cook in the veggie mixture a bit later in the process.

Reserve a cup of pasta water, drain the rest and set the pasta aside.

Back to the black bean and veggie mixture: IMG_1693

Add 2 tablespoons of pesto, along with the remaining salt, and a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Mix thoroughly and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Now add the cooked spaghetti along with the remaining pasta water that was reserved.


Toss everything together gently and let the pasta cook with the sauce and veggies, for a few minutes until the flavors meld.

Sprinkle some fresh basil on top, and enjoy!



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