Are there things in your pantry that you tend to hoard? How about cans and dry goods that sit on the shelf for months at a time?
For me, one of those items is pasta. It’s hard for me to say “no” to a new experience, especially one costing only a few bucks–so when I pass by a new shape or brand of imported pasta in the grocery store, it usually ends up in the cart.
When the pandemic first started, like many people, I stocked up on nonperishable foods. This, coupled with a frankly obsessive amount of time spent scrolling through the New York Times’ cooking app, yielded some fruitful results, alerting me to recipes which I will no doubt be riffing off of for years to come. This is one of those recipes.
This dish is simple, so if one makes too many substitutions in terms of ingredients, it’s essentially a new dish–that being said, it could be made gluten-free by subbing wheat-alternative noodles. I have yet to come across a vegan ricotta substitution out there, unless one were to spring for some vegan cream cheese and whip it up with a dash of sugar.
But if you are a full-time or even part-time dairy eater, I say go for it and eat the dang ricotta! It’s a truly remarkable, natural compliment to pasta of any sort.
This recipe is great for easy weeknight dinner, or for a meat-free meal. Makes for an excellent lunch, also.
Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. While that’s boiling, “bloom” the red pepper flakes along with a few cloves of garlic in a skillet with olive oil. Once the oil starts to change color and become fragrant, add drained chickpeas and sauté for a few minutes, until chickpeas are coated in spiced oil and warmed through.
Add cooked noodles, ricotta, some reserved pasta water, and a splash of quality olive oil to the pan and mix.
Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and torn basil, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Simple Chickpea Ricotta Pasta
- 8 oz pasta, or enough for two servings
- 3 Tbs olive oil for sauteeing, plus 1 Tbs for final assembly
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1/3 c ricotta cheese
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ½ small lemon, for final assembly
- Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn, for final assembly
Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8-12 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the first measurement of olive oil and red pepper flakes until the pepper has “bloomed” in the olive oil, about 2 minutes. (Oil should change color and become fragrant.) Add smashed garlic cloves and lower heat to medium, cooking just until they begin to lose their pearly white look, about 3 minutes. Add drained chickpeas and halved tomatoes and stir, coating everything in oil over heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the garlic has changed from white to translucent beige.
Change heat to low and add drained pasta, ricotta, a squeeze of the half lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining 1 Tbs olive oil and stir everything together.
Plate with torn basil leaves and serve immediately. Pairs excellent with a buttery white wine or plain bubbly water, whichever you prefer.