Make: Pasta with Garlicky Roasted Chickpeas and Greens

A warming pasta dish that packs a great protein punch

Have you seen the documentary Food Inc.? If you haven’t, it’s worth watching. If you have, then you can relate to my guilt over meat. It’s easy to say you’re going to stick to organic, grass-fed beef or poultry but actually doing it is a whole different story. When faced with the moral dilemma, I chose evasion: cook meat-free!

Small amounts of protein are in just about everything we eat, but certain foods are much better sources than others. Eggs and dairy are obviously good, but nuts, seeds, legumes and beans are also fantastic protein sources. Now, we all know the old adage about beans, right? I enjoy singing it to my students and watching them all turn red. Farts are funny in elementary school, but not so much in high school. So instead of cooking with fewer beans, I choose to disguise them by making them taste like salty, crunchy goodness. Enter: roasted chickpeas.

Chickpeas are the powerhouse behind hummus; they’re packed with fiber, protein and iron. The canned version we are used to has a slimy exterior and a gritty texture. When tossed with olive oil and baked, they become a different animal entirely! Combined with the protein from the whole-wheat pasta and the parmesan cheese, this recipe is both protein-packed and delicious.

If watching your calories, spoon up more veggies and less pasta. Dark leafy greens are arguably the healthiest vegetable for you; kale and Swiss chard rank the highest, but if spinach is more your thing, go for it. Also, when buying your pasta, look for the highest percentage of whole-wheat flour; the more whole-wheat flour, the better. A big bowl of warm, tasty, guilt-free food sounds just about right as February seems to be bringing the wintertime weather—finally!

Pasta with Garlicky Roasted Chickpeas and Greens
Serves two

For the chickpeas:
2 c. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic pressed or minced
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

For the pasta and greens:
8 oz. whole wheat pasta (I used fusilli, but you can use anything you have). Reserve 1 cup of cooking water.
1/4 c. olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
1 bunch greens (collard, kale, spinach, etc.), ribs removed and roughly chopped
1 tsp. salt and more to taste
Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese and chickpeas to serve

1. To roast chickpeas, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain chickpeas in a colander and rinse until the water coming from the colander is no longer bubbly. Dry chickpeas.

2. Put chickpeas into a 9-by-12-inch baking pan and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil and garlic. Toss together and place in the oven.

3. Roast for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt, adding more to taste. Let cool (they will get crunchy as they cool).

4. Bring salted pasta water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente (literally means, “to the tooth” – there should be a bite to it). Reserve 1 cup pasta liquid and drain pasta.

5. In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté 5 to 8 minutes or until soft and starting to turn golden.

6. Add greens and lower heat to medium. Add 1 tsp. salt. Sauté until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Add pasta to skillet along with about 1/2 c. of the pasta water. Stir to coat and reduce heat to medium low. Let cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally.

8. Add remaining two tbsp. olive oil and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.

9. Plate pasta, topping with a generous handful of chickpeas and Parmesan cheese.

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Becca Boyd is a wife and new mom who teaches culinary courses to students at Radnor High School. She creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen and blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics.