Bucatini with Lima Beans
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
Four 4-inch sweet Italian sausages, sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, with juice, chopped
1 tablespoon dried basil
½ pound bucatini or spaghetti, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 cups lima beans, cooked
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter a 9 × 9-inch baking dish.
In a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausages and brown on all sides until partially cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and drain almost all the drippings from the pan. Add the onion and cook until just wilted. Remove with the slotted spoon to the plate. Add the garlic and cook until soft. Do not allow the garlic to become brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the pasta, stir to separate, and cook until less than al dente. Drain. The pasta should be undercooked.
In a large bowl, combine the pasta, lima beans, tomato sauce, onion, and sausage. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Bake, uncovered, until the mixture bubbles, about 15 minutes.
Dried beans are not for spur-of-the-moment, let's-see-what's-in-the-cupboard cooks. Many require hours of soaking. (Only fish seem to need more time in water.) To prepare dried beans, if you can plan ahead, soak them overnight. Simply immerse beans in cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Cover, ignore for about 12 hours, and then rinse before using. If you can manage just a couple of hours of advanced preparation, place the beans in a saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, turn off the heat, and let them stand for an hour. Drain and use. No matter which method time allows, it's important to discard the soaking water and start fresh for the rest of the recipe.