This is one of my favorite year-round dinners to make. There are always greens in season, so use whatever you have around/like best. Customize based on how much spinach (or greens) you have to use up, how many chickpeas you have, what kind of pasta you have on hand (I think the sauce suits linguine nicely if smashed to a slightly smoother consistency) and how spicy/garlicky you like your food. I like to add some red chili flakes to the sauce to add flavor, especially if I’m choosing to forgo Parmesan cheese on top. If you have nutritional yeast lying around, sprinkle some of that on top for some extra flavor and vitamins. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of wine, if you’d like. (We had Essential Baking Co.’s Fremont Sourdough, and a nice medium-bodied Monastrell. Absolutely delish.)
Chickpea and Spinach Penne
Serves 2 two people with enough leftovers for one or two lunches.
Time commitment: 20-30 minutes
a little over half a 1 lb. bag whole wheat penne
1 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced, or too taste
1/2 a bag or so fresh (or frozen) spinach (or kale, chard, etc. Using tougher greens will just require more chopping and longer cooking.), washed and roughly chopped
1 25 oz. can garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) drained
1 1/2 c. broth* (veggie, chicken, or no-chicken) or water
a couple dashes of red chili flakes (optional)
Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
Start pasta water boiling with a generous pinch of salt. Meanwhile, mince garlic, drain beans and wash/chop spinach. Heat a medium-to-large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic, stirring till garlic starts to sizzle. Add spinach, saute for a couple of minutes, till it’s nice and wilted and you have room for beans. Add beans, broth or water, and chili flakes. Stir, mashing beans up as much as you’d like depending on what texture sauce you prefer. (Your pasta water is probably ready about now; add your pasta and set timer for 8 minutes.) Once sauce is boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook stirring occasionally till pasta is al dente. Then, drain pasta and add to sauce. Continue simmering pasta and sauce till pasta is done to your liking, occasionally stirring gently with tongs. Note: the starch in the pasta will help to thicken your sauce. If you find that it’s getting too thick, add more broth or water. If it’s too thin, turn up the heat and reduce for a bit before adding pasta (you don’t want to overcook your pasta).
Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste; serve with crusty bread, and Parm or nutritional yeast sprinkled on top, if you like!
* I love, love, LOVE “Better Than Bouillon” in the organic vegetable flavor. It’s a way better deal than canned broth or bouillon cubes, and super tasty. Grab the no-beef or no-chicken flavor while you’re at it. Just the right amount of flavor and salt (although err on the side of less to begin with, it can become mega salty).
Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer. Makes a great microwave lunch (but add some water before zapping).
I’m sure there are lots of exciting things you could add to this to make it more interesting… What do you think?