Pasta with chickpeas, spinach and rich tomato sauce


This pasta with chickpeas recipe doesn't strictly hail from the kitchen of either my Italian wife Laura or her mum Mamma Marisa. However it's so jammed with fresh veggie flavors it would be a real shame not to share it here.

pasta with chick peas recipe

From its rich tomato sauce to the strong leafy substance of its spinach leaves and the soft chew of moreish chickpeas (or garbanzo beans as you crazy Yanks like to call 'em), it offers up a plate of taste that both vegetarians and confirmed omnivores will love to devour.

This dish is truly a 'version of a version' (the way great recipes often are). We first discovered it as a recipe called vermicelli nests with chickpeas, spinach and tomato from a wonderful health-conscious cookbook called The Mediaterranean Vegan Kitchen, but that was itself a version of a French dish called palourdes en nids (clams in nests).

We then adapated the book's version by opting for canned plum tomatoes rather than fresh toms and cooking these for longer, making the sauce taste a little more traditionally 'tomatoey' and, to my tastebuds at least, richer too.

We also suggest dumping the long pasta the book recommends (shown in the pic below), and we recommend instead using orecchiette pasta shells, as these will be much more effective at catching those roll-away chickpeas.

Here's how you make it...

Serves 4


1 x 395g/14oz can of plum tomatoes

1 x 395g/14oz can of pre-cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans

1x 500g/17.5 oz orecchiette pasta (or other short shapes)

230g/8oz fresh spinach

1 glass of dry white wine

2 garlic cloves

3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (2 teaspoons dried)

Extra virgin olive oil


STEP 1 - First, a little quick prep.

- De-end and peel the garlic cloves (they stay whole in this recipe).

- Remove any long spinach stems, rinse the leaves well, then chop all roughly into half-inch (1.5cm) strips.

- Drain the juice from both the can of chickpeas and the tomatoes.

- Finally, roughly chop the plum tomatoes.

STEP 2 - Half cover the base of a large skillet (i.e. deep frying pan) with a thin film of olive oil, drop in the garlic cloves and bang on medium-high heat until the cloves sizzle.

- Fry for 3 or 4 mins, until the cloves brown a little (making sure the oil isn't so hot that it smokes).

STEP 3 - Now drop in the chickpeas and mix well to coat with the oil.

- Then add the wine, the thyme, the tomatoes and a pinch of sugar (which helps the toms lose their sourness).

- Now we bring the lot to the boil and simmer for around 10 minutes - stirring regularly - until most of the wine has evaporated (leaving only a hint of its taste). The toms also cook and richen during this time, while the chickpeas soften.

STEP 4 - With most of the liquidity gone and the sauce tasting nice and sweet, remove and trash the garlic cloves, drop in all the spinach, mix really well and cover the pan.

pasta with chick peas recipe

- Cook for 3-5 minutes more, just heating the spinach and cooking it a little, but not completely wilting it to nothing.

That's the sauce done!

STEP 5 - Cook up your pasta in a large pan of boiling well-salted water (with a drop of olive oil too as orecchiette are prone to sticking), as per its packet's suggested timings.

- Drain the cooked pasta and you're ready to munch!

Done! Pasta with chickpeas ready to munch...

To serve: either mix the sauce and the pasta before serving, or blop the sauce in the center of each pasta bowl.

(If all you have is long pasta, try the bird's nest style shown below.)

Enjoyed this pasta with chickpeas?

Then you'll also like...

• This 4-Step Pasta Chickpea Soup

• Soupy mushroom pasta recipe with saffron and chickpeas

• Homemade fresh spinach pasta dough

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