Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pasta with Chickpeas

One of the signs of a well-loved recipe in a well-loved book: pencil marks. Today's recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites has calculated Weight Watchers Points next to all the ingredients, and then a total-points-for-the-whole-recipe in the upper corner. See, though the recipe may say it serves 4 to 6, it has pasta in it, and that makes it a crazy guessing game for serving size around me. Pasta = more, please.
Pasta with Chickpeas

Pasta with Chickpeas is considered an unusual dish in the United States, but this combination is very common in Italian cuisine. In ancient Rome, Horace wrote about it with longing and glad anticipation. Tomatoes are a relatively recent addition to the sauce.

Our tasty sauce, thick and substantial with a high protein and high fiber content, is quickly produced from economical pantry items. There is just enough rosemary to make it interesting without being overpowering; use fresh rosemary so that the whole sprigs can be removed from the sauce.

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, 2 inches each
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups chopped fresh or 3 cups canned tomatoes (28-ounce can, undrained)
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (two 15- or 16-ounce cans)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 pound short chunky pasta, such as ditalini, tubetti, or orecchiette
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)

Combine the onions, garlic, rosemary, and oil in a well-seasoned skillet or nonstick saucepan and sauté on low heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and golden. Add the tomatoes and half of the chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprigs and discard (see Note). In a blender, purée the tomato-chickpea mixture until smooth. Return it to the skillet, stir in the remaining chickpeas, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a large covered pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, add the pasta, stir, cover the pot, and return to a boil. Stir the pasta again and cook, uncovered, until al dente. Drain the pasta. In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with the chickpea sauce and serve immediately. Sprinkle with feta cheese or pass the feta at the table and top with tomatoes, if desired.

Note: For a stronger rosemary flavor, strip the leaves from one of the rosemary sprigs and add them to the blender with the tomato-chickpea mixture before puréeing.

Serves 4 to 6
Total time: 20 minutes
So quick! So easy! So darned tasty!

But...Horace and chickpeas? Turns out, he does mention them. And why not? Chickpeas (or garbanzos, or cecis) have a long history. According to Wikipedia, there've been 7,500 year old chickpeas found. And, no, they weren't in my cupboard (oldest chickpeas there: probably about 7 years...).

What I love about this recipe: It's got pasta. And tomatoes. And chickpeas. What's not to love?

Okay, it doesn't freeze well. And it really is better hot, though it will do a passable reheat in the office microwave. The cheese melts, though; you figured that one out already, I bet. It's easy as pie to make a huge batch of for a really cozy if somewhat last minute dinner party; if you invite friends over for an unexpected game night, you can all sit around with big bowls of this and not make as much of a mess as you would with a saucy dish of longer noodles. Pairs great with a medium-bodied red wine, too.

Really, the more I type, the more I think this has "game night" written all over it.

I'm a linguistic chameleon on the chickpea vs. garbanzo divide; I grew up referring to them as the former, and now tend to go with the later.

1 comment:

  1. Funny, I think I've always thought of them as garbanzos.