This incredibly tasty butter bean pasta combines rigatoni with lightly roasted butter beans in a decadent creamy Tuscan sauce (based on the popular “marry me chicken”). This easy vegetarian pasta will get you hooked on butter beans!

Making the case for “Marry Me Butter Beans”

Following on from my Creamy Harissa Chickpeas, I am not quite done looking for ways to make a vegetarian version of the “Marry Me Chicken” recipe that continues to make its presence known on my social media feeds.

(For those who aren’t familiar / aren’t constantly bombarded by it on social media, “Marry Me Chicken” is a recipe for chicken in a sundried tomato cream sauce which is supposed to be soooo delicious that when you make it for someone they will immediately propose – whether that guarantee transfers itself to butter beans remains to be seen!)

I can vouch for the sauce being completely epic. But combining it with beans instead of chicken has some potential pitfalls.

I found that when I added plain ol’ butter beans straight from the can, the result was a little bland because they don’t bring any flavor, and the creamy texture was just a little same-y. So I fixed this by roasting the butter beans to give them a little crispiness, while keeping the insides soft and classically butter bean-y. And I took the opportunity to add some amazing flavor to the beans while roasting, which I think you’ll agree makes a huuuge difference. This mix of herbs gives it an almost meaty flavor profile so when it meets that creamy sauce it has some contrast to offer.

Of course, you don’t have to make your “Marry Me Butter Beans” into a pasta dish, but I felt like that was the best way to serve it, and only enhances its crowd pleaser credentials. I have some other ideas coming for you (below) if you’d like to try this concept in a different way.

Ingredient Notes, Substitutions and Additions

  • On the butter bean roasting spices: The fennel seeds and smoked paprika that we add to the butter beans impart a slightly meaty / Italian sausage flavor, so I really love this particular combo. If you don’t have these ingredients, go ahead and use an Italian seasoning to roast the beans in. It will still be tasty. I also love sage here, but you could use thyme, oregano, or any other dried green herb – I tried a few and it doesn’t make much difference.
  • Swapping canned butter beans for freshly cooked? Then you want about 1.5 cups of butter beans.
  • The spinach is optional, my earlier tests left it out but I felt like it could use something green and spinach just blends right in without any trouble. Kale would be great too if you’d like something more substantial and textured.
  • Basil could be replaced with parsley if you need to.
  • Adding mushrooms to the sauce would be delicious! Just saute them at the beginning after softening the onion and carry on with the recipe as written.
  • Parmesan style cheese means parmesan, pecorino, any Italian hard cheese. But as a vegetarian I use a generic Italian hard cheese that is made without animal rennet.
  • The lemon wedges make a nice finishing touch – a little squeeze of lemon just breaks up some of the richness of the dish – but this is very optional. Don’t worry if you haven’t got any.

Q. How could I serve these “marry me butter beans” without the pasta?

You would want to double or even triple the butter beans (depending on how saucy you want them) and then you could try any of these ideas:

  • Serve them with fresh bread or toast.
  • Serve over rice or cauliflower rice.
  • As a baked potato or baked sweet potato topping.

Creamy “Marry Me” Butter Bean Pasta

This incredibly tasty butter bean pasta combines rigatoni with lightly roasted butter beans in a decadent creamy Tuscan sauce (based on the popular "marry me chicken"). This easy vegetarian pasta will get you hooked on butter beans!
5 from 1 rating


  • 9 oz (250 g) rigatoni, or another short pasta shape
  • lemon wedges, optional garnish

Butter Beans

  • 14 oz (400 g) can of butter beans, drained and patted dry
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dried sage


  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 pinch red pepper or chili flakes, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp mixed Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup (140 g) sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (puree)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy (double) cream
  • 1 cup (100 g) parmesan style cheese, grated
  • 1 small bunch basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups (75 g) baby spinach, chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 200C / 390F.
  • Get the butter beans roasting first. In a large bowl, lightly toss the butter beans with enough olive oil to coat them all (about 2 tablespoons will do it) and add the fennel seeds, smoked paprika and dried sage.
    14 oz can of butter beans, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp dried sage
  • Scatter the butter beans in a roasting or casserole dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly crisped.
  • Meanwhile, start making the sauce. In a large, deep saucepan with a lid, heat a little olive oil and saute the onions until soft. Add the garlic, chili or red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and sundried tomatoes to the pan (if you are using sundried tomatoes stored in herby oil, go ahead and pour some of that tasty oil into the pan too).
    1/2 red onion, 6 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp mixed Italian seasoning, 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, salt and pepper, 1 pinch red pepper or chili flakes
  • Add the tomato paste and saute for another couple of minutes before pouring in the broth. Simmer, partially covered, for about 5 minutes until it has reduced a little bit and a thick sauce is forming.
    2 tbsp tomato paste (puree), 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Once there are only 10 minutes on the clock until the beans are ready, get your pasta boiling according to package instructions.
    9 oz rigatoni
  • Once the broth has cooked down a little and you've got your pasta boiling, you will get back to the sauce! Add in the cream and cheese, simmering over a very gentle heat until the cheese has melted in. Add the spinach and basil to the pan and stir through until it is just starting to wilt, then remove from the heat and set aside (covered) until the beans are done.
    1 cup heavy (double) cream, 1 cup parmesan style cheese, 2 cups baby spinach, 1 small bunch basil
  • Check in on the beans. They're ready once they are lightly crisped, but still soft in the middle. Some may have broken – that is fine.
  • Once the beans are done, remove from the oven and add them to the sauce and mix through.
  • Once the pasta is ready, drain and toss through the pan with the sauce.
  • Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.
    lemon wedges
Calories: 708kcal, Carbohydrates: 80g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 84mg, Sodium: 771mg, Potassium: 1183mg, Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 3278IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 432mg, Iron: 5mg