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Quick Pasta with Escarole & White Beans

This month I’m testing recipes for the galactagogues chapter of Parents Need to Eat Too. I see you scratching your head—either you were never a breastfeeding mom with supply problems, or you’ve blissfully erased that episode from your memory. A galactagogue is something that stimulates or promotes the production of breastmilk—if you’re unlucky enough (as I was) to have a body that doesn’t produce adequate milk to sustain your baby, a galactagogue may be the answer. During the first seven weeks of Harry’s life, as I tried and failed and tried again to nail down what’s supposed to be a simple, natural process, I learned an awful lot about galactagogues from a variety of lactation consultants. And thanks to the research I’m doing for the book, I now know even more.

Whole grains, greens, and beans are considered lactogenic foods. This little dish uses all three, and it has the added benefit of being ready in just about 30 minutes.

Have no fear if you’re not a nursing mother, or if you are but you’re not looking to increase supply. One meal, even two, won’t turn you into a dairy cow. On the other hand, given how good this tastes, it might be worth it to moo, briefly.

Quick Pasta with Escarole & White Beans
Serves 4
Weight Watchers: each serving is 8 points, without added Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped small
2 pounds escarole, roughly chopped, washed, and drained—leave some water clinging to the leaves
Salt & pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes, more if you like heat
8 ounces cut whole grain pasta (if you’re not on Weight Watchers, feel free to use more)
2 cups cooked white beans plus 1/2 cup cooking liquid, or 1 can no-salt-added white beans, drained, 1/2 cup of the liquid reserved
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

  1. Put a large pot of salted water, covered, on to boil.
  2. While that’s going, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so, just until the aroma fills the kitchen. Add the escarole by the handful, stirring and adding more as it wilts, until it’s all in. Stir in salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Cover, reduce the heat, and let it simmer while the water comes to a boil.
  3. Cook the pasta according to package directions. About five minutes before it’s done cooking, add the drained beans—not the liquid—to the escarole. Stir and re-cover; let it simmer while the pasta finishes cooking.
  4. When the pasta’s ready, drain it and toss it into the sauté pan—if it’s not big enough to hold everything, return the pasta to the big pot and add the escarole and bean mixture. Mix it all together over low heat and add some of the bean liquid. It’s ready when it looks saucy and the temptation to grab a fork and dig in is overwhelming.
  5. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Liz Anderson

    Yum! I made something similar to this last week. It was meant to be a shrimp pasta. But with a shrimp-disliking husband and a scallop-nomming preschooler, I made it with bay scallops in place of the shrimp. It was delicious. The green in that one was spinach, but I'm eager to try the escarole, which our kids haven't tried – yet.

  2. MarthaAndMe

    Wish I'd had your book when mine were babies. I had trouble with milk production too.

  3. Carrietracy

    I also made something similar:
    Spinach with Rotini, White Beans and Pasta.

    I'm not trying to make milk or anything here, but it is damn good.

    There's just something about that beans+greens+garlic. Yum.

  4. carrietracy

    Do you think this would work with Radicchio? I have some in the house right now that needs using.

    1. Debbie Koenig

      I don’t see why not, Carrietracy. I imagine it would work with any bitter green. Let me know how it turns out please!

      1. Carrietracy

        It came out really well Debbie! I didn’t have nearly as much radicchio as I hoped and I used a LOT of parm, but it was delicious. I also used this strange pasta – Kamut and Quinoa because we had a free sample and I really liked the sort of earthy flavor with this dish.

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