Don't Pour Out Bean Broth, Boil Pasta In It Instead

Beans are a magical fruit (as the old song goes), but the liquid they're canned in may be just as valuable. Plenty of recipes call for draining and rinsing your beans to get rid of all that goop, especially if you're using them in a recipe where you want them dry, like a taco salad. As is the case with the liquid gold that is pasta water, there are plenty of good reasons to save your bean broth. This broth is basically just water packed with salt and starchy goodness — which again, is very similar to the pasta water we know to hold onto.

Sometimes we save leftover pasta water to dump a little into a sauce, since the starches that the noodles release thicken the sauce and help it stick to the pasta. The same concept applies with starchy bean broth. When you boil your noodles in this juice instead of plain water, it'll be easier to create a rich sauce later on. Plus, you'll get additional notes from the beans in your dish, which can mean extra earthy, buttery, and nutty flavors.

How to cook pasta in bean broth

While it's absolutely a good idea to boil your pasta in bean broth, doing so involves more than dumping all the juice in a pot with your noodles — and most cans don't deliver enough broth to use it as your sole cooking liquid anyway. But, since this juice is highly concentrated with salt and starch, this isn't a bad thing. Before you dump your broth in a pot, you may want to do a taste test since different cans will have different flavor notes. To cook your pasta in this starchy liquid, you'll first want to save it by draining your beans over a bowl. Then, dump the bean broth in the pot and add water until you have enough to cook your noodles. After stirring, you may want to again taste the broth to determine how salty it is, and you can then season it accordingly before boiling your noodles.

As an alternative, why not try making what's arguably the most famous pasta and bean dish: pasta e fagioli? This recipe involves cooking little noodles (typically ditalini pasta) in a mixture of bean broth and chicken broth along with beans, vegetables, and, occasionally, meat. The pasta is small enough that it cooks beautifully in all that liquid, and the bean juice helps thicken everything up. Whether you're going for this specific dish or you just want a little extra silkiness in your pasta, remember to hang onto your bean broth.