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Ottolenghi Test Kitchen’s Dreamy Pasta and Beans with Halloumi and Rocket Pesto

by The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Team, Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things

The quick and easy garlicky rocket pesto adds colour and freshness to this cannellini bean and halloumi pasta dish. Keep the extra to use throughout the week.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad, The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Team


This easy weeknight dinner comes together (magically!) in under an hour and is made super special with the addition of finely grated halloumi, which looks like a fluffy cheese cloud when grated. If you haven’t had grated raw halloumi before, it really is quite a revelation, as it doesn’t melt completely but instead softens and adds a texturally salty element to whatever you sprinkle it on. Replace the halloumi with other grated cheese if you like, such as pecorino or Parmesan, or leave it out completely and use veggie stock for a completely vegan meal.

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75ml olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 (15g) green chilli, halved lengthways
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tins of cannellini beans (800g), drained and rinsed (480g)
250g dried gemelli or trofie pasta
700ml chicken or vegetable stock
60ml (from 2-3 lemons) lemon juice
1 block (around 200g) halloumi, very finely grated
salt and black pepper
For the rocket pesto:
50g pine nuts, well toasted
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
60g rocket, roughly chopped
20g parsley, roughly chopped
90ml olive oil

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor.


Put the oil into a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, and place it on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the garlic is nicely golden. Add the thyme, beans, pasta, stock, 1½ teaspoons salt and plenty of pepper and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to medium, cover with the lid, and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit, lid off, for about 10 minutes. This will help the pasta absorb more of the flavourful liquid.

Meanwhile, make the rocket pesto by first putting the pine nuts, garlic, rocket, parsley, 3 tablespoons of the oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper into a food processor. Pulse a few times, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until you have a coarse paste. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil.

When ready, stir the lemon juice and half the pesto into the pasta and transfer to a large shallow bowl or platter with a lip (alternatively, serve straight from the pan). Sprinkle over about half the halloumi and serve the extra halloumi and pesto in bowls alongside.

Rocket pesto:

– Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Seal the top of the pesto with more oil to keep the colour.

– This would go so well with the potato slab pie, or smeared on to the tattie scones instead of the fennel and sausage gravy.

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From the book: Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things

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