Sunday, February 25, 2007

Orecchiette with Cool Chickpeas

This recipe for Orecchiette with Cool Chickpeas is my favorite so far from the On Top of Spaghetti cookbook. I think it is my favorite because it surprised me. I'm always surprised when recipes are quick and simple to prepare and yet they end up having very complex flavors.

I wanted to try this recipe because of its use of chickpeas. I am trying to add more legumes in my diet as a form of protein. And lets face it, pasta and chickpeas by themselves do not seem to be too tasty. Not bad, but nothing special. However MARINATING the chickpeas as suggested by the authors Johanne Killeen and George Germon is an absolutely brilliant concept.

Would you believe me if I told you my chickpeas were sweet? Well, they were. And notice that there isn't even any sugar in this recipe. The sweetness comes from the sweet natural flavors of the mint and red onion. And on my first bite I was so surprised by the sweetness that I forgot about the hot pepper that I added. The heat poked through surprising me twice! If you like it spicy, make sure to keep the seeds and add them into the marinade.

I made a few modifications to the written recipe. I used a very high quality Greek olive oil. I knew this would not be cooked and the oil ended up providing flavor but also not being too thick or sticky. I omitted the parsley in the marinade and the lemon wedges for garnish. I also added a bit of extra mint for garnish. I hope you all try this for yourselves!

Orecchiette with Cool Chickpeas
(serves 2 to 3)

1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped red onion
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon or more finely chopped fresh hot pepper
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 large fresh mint leaves
8 ounces dried orecchiette or pasta shells
Lemon wedges (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the onion, olive oil, hot pepper, chickpeas, parsley and lemon juice. Slice the mint into a fine chiffonade and stir into the chickpeas. Allow to marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt and drop in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until al dente.

Drain the pasta and toss in the bowl with the chickpeas. Set aside for 5 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the flavors. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread to dip into the sauce and lemon wedges to spritz each serving, if you like.


Chris said...

What a lovely dish. And, the fact it has chickpeas - well...its a keeper! The flavors seem as though they compliment one another so well! Thanks for this.

cookingchat said...

sounds like a great combo. I like both main ingredients a lot and combining sounds good!

Kate said...

That's cute how they nestle together like that.

I have only recently discovered some delicious recipes using pasta and beans. They make a great combo.

Brilynn said...

I love how the chickpeas sit inside the orecchiette! Very nice.

rachel said...

I think the pasta catching the chickpeas is why they chose this particular pasta. They suggested Orecchiette or Shells. Either one would have that effect. I know it makes it easier to eat.

Nupur said...

Such a cute and healthy pasta salad! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I can see myself making it a lot in summer for picnics.

Deepa said...

yummy !! This was absolutely delightful and sooooooo easy!! lovely!