Monday, February 6, 2012

Things You Can Do with Chickpeas

A chickpea in a pasta pod.
So I did a bit of improvising last week. There was a recipe in Solo Suppers I wanted to try that involved chickpeas in pasta. I'm still not sure how I feel about beans in pasta (aside from soups like pasta e fagiole or minestrone) but I (sort of) had the ingredients and decided to give it a try.

The original recipe is called "Orecchiette with Broccoli and Chickpeas." Well, I didn't have any orecchiette or broccoli, so I made this with small shells and spinach. It's a pretty versatile recipe; you could add pretty much any vegetable to this, change up the beans, or leave them out altogether. However, if you are using beans, specifically chickpeas, I would recommend some type of bowl-shaped pasta. Why? Because the chickpeas nestle themselves right inside, as you can see in the photo.

Here is my modified recipe:

Pasta with Veggies and Chickpeas


Bowl-shaped pasta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup cooked chickpeas (adjust amount based on your preferences)
1 cup spinach


1.  Boil a pot of water. Add the salt and one serving of pasta.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, red pepper, and chickpeas and cook for two minutes.

Saute the chickpeas with the seasonings.
3.  Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.
Be careful not to over-wilt!
4.  When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the saute pan. Stir it all together, transfer to a serving bowl, and top with Parmesan cheese.

The beans add an interesting texture to the dish, a softness alongside the pasta's "bite." I think a crunchy veggie like broccoli or fresh green beans would probably be a better match, but the spinach is still delicious.

The pasta was good, but it left me with a lot of unused chickpeas. I know what you're thinking: make hummus. Well, I might have but I already had two containers of my favorites in the fridge (Atheno's Roasted Red Pepper and Trader Joe's Roasted Garlic). So instead, I came up with the idea for what I am calling a Mediterranean Pita.

Mediterranean Pita


3/4 cup fresh spinach
2 tbsp Kalamata olive pieces
1 oz cheese (I used chevre because that's what I had--obviously feta would be a welcome alternative)
1 pita


1.  Marinade your chickpeas. I used some olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic. Create your own, or use a salad dressing. I let them sit overnight in the fridge.
Marinating chickpeas.
2.  Combine chickpeas and their marinade with spinach, olives, and cheese in a bowl mix well.
At this point, you could stop and just have yourself a nice salad.
But let's keep going!
3.  Cut a pita in half and heat it in the oven or toaster oven. (When you cut it before heating, it will start to open up on its own which makes it much easier to stuff!)
4.  When your pita is toasty, stuff it with the spinach mixture. Enjoy it while it's warm!
I had enough filling left over to have a salad on the side, too.
So, there you have it. A couple of new and interesting things to do with chickpeas!

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