Autumn Healthy Eating Recipes Vegan Vegetarian

Butterbeans all’Arrabbiata

Butterbeans all'Arrabbiata

Autumn tends to be characterised by a distinct group of ingredients and styles – pumpkin, apple, pies and one-pot meals – but that isn’t the whole story. A simple, frugal pasta dish can be comforting and delicious in equal measure. Arrabbiata, with its hints of chilli and garlic demonstrates this perfectly, especially with a few butterbeans thrown in for good measure. Of course, chicken is the most common pairing with this Italian favourite, but for me it can often be a less-than-inspiring ingredient. Butterbeans all’Arrabbiata mixes things up beautifully, bringing an already incredible sauce to life.

Butterbeans all'Arrabbiata

Though frugality is, obviously, one of my top priorities in food preparation, dried legumes aren’t always the answer. Though cheaper, dried legumes aren’t the best choice in every scenario. For instance, in my arrabbiata sauce I chose to use tinned butterbeans as they hold their shape – an important consideration in any pasta dish. However, when making a chilli or one-pot casserole it is less important to include perfectly whole beans. Ultimately, which you use should come down to the individual legume and the nature of the dish. Chickpeas, for instance, hold their shape very well when dried and if you’re using them for hummus it doesn’t matter anyway!

Butterbeans all’Arrabbiata

Serves 4


• 2 tins of plum tomatoes

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 6 dried red chillies, finely sliced

• 3 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 4 tbsp olive oil

• 2 tsp dried herbs

• 2 tbsp tomato puree

• 1 tin of butterbeans or equivalent dried, soaked and boiled

• Salt and pepper to taste

• fresh basil, or similar, to serve


1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion until translucent. Tip in the garlic and red chillies and cook over a gentle heat for a further 2 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, puree and herbs and cook for 30-40 minutes until the fruit has had a chance to break down. Tip in the beans and allow to heat through. Season and serve with penne and a hint of torn up basil.

Butterbeans all'Arrabbiata Butterbeans all'Arrabbiata

Cost: As I’ve said many times before, pasta dishes of this nature never cost very much at all. Indeed, this entire dish should set you back no more than about £1.20.


34 replies on “Butterbeans all’Arrabbiata”

Mint forward herbs makes this even more intriguing. i’m going to have to try this some time. I was expecting something more Italian style – thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, etc

Suitable, or interesting? I mean, if suitable is going to translate to “boring” perhaps I’ll try the mint idea – maybe mint and oregano, or mint and a strong basil.

Go with your heart – there won’t really be any competing flavours so it’ll work. I don’t think I’d describe any of them as boring – as long as they’re good quality and actually have flavour!

6 chillies!!!! I love butter beans, have never considered putting them with pasta before.
I do dispute some of your costings; i’m a working mum and do a big shop once a week, pick up a few extra at the weekend, but the chillies alone in Aldi would be 80p or so.

I got a bag of dried red chillies from an Asian supermarket for around £1.50 – there were at least 100 chillies in it. Paying 80p for 6 chillies is outrageous. You could get a handful (20 or so) of fresh chillies from ASDA for around 40p. My costings are accurate, I promise.

This looks like a great lunch or supper dish. I love simple pasta dishes and butterbeans with tomatoes is a great combination. In Greek cuisine there is a similar combination (minus the pasta) with butterbeans cooked in a rich tomato sauce. It’s called gigantes plaki and it is divine. This recipe looks equally tasty! 🙂

Pinning this, looks thoroughly up my street! And I too like to use butter-beans in some recipes that call for chicken; they can be quite effective as an added ‘meaty’ textural dimension, just so long as the sauce (such as in this case) carries the bulk of the flavour for the dish. Also, while I mostly cook a whole 500g of any given pulse at a time – especially if planning to feet the world from one pot – I entirely agree about tinned pulses where appropriate, such as when used in smaller quantities where the cost of cooking from scratch would defeat the object of keeping things frugal – or indeed quick and uncomplicated!

Doesn’t matter now 🙂
We had this dish this afternoon and it was perfecto! Super warming on a grey drizzly winter afternoon. We both loved it and will certainly be revisiting it in the near future. The beans added a pleasing extra dimension and the heat was spot on, though I used fresh hot little chillies harvested from my windowsill rather than dried I thought there wouldn’t be much in it.
Oh, and I used roughly half a 500g packet of penne (or in other words what I had in the cupboard) which seemed just about right. Not much left between the two of us to be honest – would serve one – we had nice big bowlfuls of it, and he went back for seconds 😀
Many thanks!

This combination of beans and pasta hadn’t occurred to me before, but I’ll be remembering it some evening when I’m looking for a quick and hearty dinner. Your sauce sounds like it should give the boot to any end of the day blahs with all those chiles!

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