I created this dish as a way to use some of the beans that are currently cropping really well in my new veggie patch. These borlotti beans (aka tongue of fire) are so pretty with their red streaky pods (although this colour disappears on cooking). I’ve picked these young and am eating them pods and all. Regular green beans, or French beans, would also work really well in this, but the ones I’m growing aren’t quite big enough yet!

I wanted to make a quick meal for dinner, and a rummage in the pantry and fridge revealed walnuts and mascarpone. I had a vague idea of what to do and found something similar without the beans in this great pasta sauce book by Dianne Seed (a fab gift from my Mum!) Mascarpone cheese can be frozen, so if you don’t use the whole tub, you can pop the rest in the freezer til next time.

Spaghetti with Beans, Walnuts, and Mascarpone
Servings = 2
Time = 20 minutes
Difficulty = easy
Description = Use this recipe combining fresh beans in a creamy pasta sauce with the lovely added texture of walnuts, to make a speedy light dinner for 2

Recipe Ingredients
– 100g spaghetti
– 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
– a handful of beans, chopped
– ½ teaspoon lemon zest
– 1 clove of garlic, crushed
– 4 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
– 80g mascarpone cheese
– 25g parmesan cheese, finely grated
– Salt and pepper

Recipe Directions
1. Cook the spaghetti in salted water, and while that’s happening…
2. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a frying pan over medium heat.
3. Add the chopped beans, crushed garlic, and lemon zest, and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add the chopped walnuts and cook for a further 2 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat, add the mascarpone and stir to combine.
6. Return to the heat, add the grated parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce a little (use boiling water from the kettle if you’ve already drained the pasta).
8. Drain the pasta, tip it into the sauce, and combine to coat the pasta with the sauce.
9. Serve and enjoy!

Possible substitutions and additions:
– A variety of different beans would work well here – French beans, young runner beans, double podded broad beans…
– I think double cream could be substituted for the mascarpone, and this would give a more decadent, creamy result.
– The parmesan could be increased to make it cheesier, or perhaps substituted for a blue cheese, in which case I’d omit the lemon and garlic.
– Spaghetti works well with this creamy sauce, but other pasta shapes would be just fine. Wholewheat pasta could be used to increase the fibre content.

Other tips:
– Make sure the walnuts you use are fresh – old rancid ones will ruin the dish. Fresh walnuts tend to have a paler colour, while old ones can be rather darker.
– You can freeze any leftover mascarpone cheese.