Mediterranean bean stew

Makes 7 cups – 6 servings

This hearty stew is brimming with vegetables, pasta, and beans. The recipe multiplies easily to serve as dinner for a crowd. And yes, it’s the answer to a host’s prayer: You can make it ahead. After standing for a day or two, the liquid becomes absorbed in the pasta, so it may be necessary to thin the stew by adding vegetable stock or water. I like to serve this with a medium-bodied red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Côtes du Rhône.

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup Syrah or other full-bodied, peppery red wine
3 ½ cups chicken broth or vegetable stock (prepare using stock concentrate, powder, or cubes)
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (19 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups green beans in 2-inch lengths
1 carrot, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 cup medium pasta shells
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Thinly shaved Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta cheese for garnish

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; stir constantly for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low; add the wine. Use a wooden spoon to stir, scraping up the browned juices on the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the vegetable stock, tomatoes (with juice), cannellini beans, green beans, carrot, tomato paste, fresh or dried oregano, dried basil (if using), and red-pepper flakes. Increase the heat to high; when the liquid comes to a boil, stir in the pasta. Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables and pasta are tender, about 8 minutes. Add the fresh basil (if using) during the last few minutes.

Stir in the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Garnish the servings with cheese.