Garbanzos and pasta

Here’s a new favorite cold weather dish in my home. A container of leftover cooked macaroni was the inspiration for this adaptation of a recipe I found in a magazine. It’s a great vegetarian/vegan main dish, best accompanied by a baguette or other crusty bread. For a vegetarian recipe with relatively simple ingredients, it packs a flavor punch.

The procedure calls for infusing olive oil with rosemary, garlic and hot pepper. It sounds like extra work — why not just put those ingredients right in the dish? Yes you can do that, but I think infusing the oil creates a nicer flavor. Plus you don’t have those rosemary leaf bits hanging around. They always seem like little twigs if they aren’t sufficiently minced up.

You need a side dish with some color, preferably green:

  • roasted Brussels sprouts
  • tossed green salad
  • chunky vegetable salad with peppers, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, black olives and oregano. Add some fresh mozzarella for a protein boost.

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • olive oil (you might need 4 or more tablespoons total)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 3 cups flavorful vegetable broth
  • 1/2 lb pasta, such as macaroni or other small pasta, cooked according to package instructions (great way to use up cooked pasta)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, not chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, chopped a bit (or fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (either slices from a block of cheese, or dry grated)

Make the oil

Heat 2-3 TB olive oil in a small pan over low/medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes. Add a few shakes of salt. Continue to heat for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.

Garbanzo beans

Drain most of the liquid off the garbanzos into a shallow bowl. Scoop about half the beans into the bowl. Puree the bean/liquid mixture in a food processor or blender, or with an immersion blender. Alternately, if you don’t have that equipment, mash the beans and liquid using a fork. If you’re cooking with children, this would be a fun activity for a kid. It could be messy. Set the pureed beans aside.

Make the dish

  • Heat 2 TB olive oil in a large sauce pan. Sauté the onion and celery over medium heat until soft.
  • Stir in the broth, garbanzos from the can, garbanzo puree. Heat to simmering.
  • Add the cooked pasta and heat through, but don’t overcook. Add more broth if you like a more soup-like meal.
  • Season with salt to taste.
  • Drain the infused oil through a sieve into a small bowl, discard the garlic/rosemary seasonings.
  • Serve the pasta in bowls, garnished with slices of Parmesan cheese, or grated Parmesan (easier). Vegans would omit the cheese.
  • Drizzle a bit of the seasoned oil over each bowl.

I liked the flavor just fine as is, but you might like to change it up sometime. Other possible garnishes:

  • chopped fresh tomatoes
  • chopped black olives
  • finely chopped walnuts
  • minced parsley
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