Recipe A Day #12: Garden Pasta with Chickpeas and Garlic Oil

"This looks like kind of a pain in the ass recipe. It had a few extra steps, didn’t it?"

[eats a few bites]

"Okay, those extra steps were worth it. At least to me."

Readers: today's recipe won't win a trophy for being the easiest of the month (then again, now that it's the era of seventeenth-place ribbons, maybe it might). You'll need a food processor and a knack for managing simultaneous cooking tasks. Nevertheless, this turned out to be an unusual and quite interesting pasta recipe that's both healthy and surprisingly inexpensive.

Fresh Garden Pasta with Chickpeas and Garlic Oil

1 medium-large carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves, in all
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
½ cup fresh parsley
salt and black pepper, to taste

½ cup olive oil, in all
4-5 Tablespoons tomato paste
About 3 cups water, in all
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and well-rinsed
1 pound pasta, preferably something like elbows, ditalini or spirals

1) Pulse onion, carrot, celery, 4 of the garlic cloves (of the 6 total), parsley and hot pepper flakes in a food processor until finely chopped into a sofrito-like texture (see photo below).

2) Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large pot, transfer pulsed veggies into pot, and saute on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes. Add tomato paste and 1 cup of water to pot, combine very well and saute for another 7-8 minutes or so, stirring regularly, until liquid is almost evaporated and sauce is a rich reddish-brown color.

3) Add chickpeas and 2 cups more water to pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Then, transfer about 2 cups of the chickpeas and sauce back into the food processor and puree well, until smooth. Add back to pot, stir well and continue simmering for a few more minutes.

4) In the meantime, boil 1 pound of pasta until al dente. Drain pasta, but reserve about 1-½ cups of pasta liquid.

5) Add pasta to sauce, add reserved pasta water until sauce has your desired thickness (we used the entire 1.5 cups), combine well and bring to a simmer.

6) Finally, chop the remaining two cloves of garlic, and in a separate small pan, saute on medium-high heat in remaining ¼ cup olive oil unti garlic is browned and just crispy.

7) Ladle pasta and sauce into bowls and drizzle olive oil with browned garlic over the top. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh parsley.

Serves 6-7.
Recipe Notes:
1) What do I mean by a sofrito-like texture? Here's a photo to give you some extra context:

2) Tastes differ: Interestingly, Laura loved this recipe, particularly the contrast between the toasted garlic and the rich but mild-tasting sauce. I was more neutral on it: it seemed like a lot of work for a recipe that didn't exactly knock my socks off, but rather just pulled them halfway down. It's amazing how food can taste so much better when somebody else makes it for you.

3) On this recipe's laughable cheapness:
carrot 15c
celery 15c
onion 25c
garlic 10c
parsley: 35c
tomato paste 50c
oils, spices: 20c
chickpeas: 1.40
pasta: 1.00

Total: about $4.10 or about 70c per serving. Hilariously cheap! Who are those silly fools who claim healthy and delicious food has to be expensive?

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