Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Garlic-Rosemary Oil

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We’ve started something new here at Sweet and Savory Kitchens – Pasta Wednesdays. The idea is something quick and easy to make on a weeknight without sacrificing freshness and deliciousness. I got the idea when I made the Garlic and Kale Linguine a while back, so technically that could be considered our first Pasta Wednesday post. While this recipe (from last month’s Bon Appetit) isn’t quite as fast, it definitely fits. It caught my eye because I had some Garlic-Rosemary oil in the fridge left over from when I last made this soup. The quantities in that recipe always make more of the oil than we use at the time so I was happy to learn of a good additional use for it. And this is good! This can be a weeknight main dish or you can serve it, as we did, as a side to roast chicken or fish. Delicious with a creamy Italian white wine.

Margaux says…

I’m loving Pasta Wednesdays! Mainly because it helps give me a sort of direction when I’m meal planning for the week. We do Meatless Mondays at my house, so that’s two days now that I have narrowed down a little more. Now maybe I should add a pizza night in there, to make my job even easier…

This dish is fantastic…even my finicky 4-year-old gave it a thumbs up. We ate it as a main dish, with plenty of leftovers (which I love…makes lunches easy!!) I made it with white beans and penne pasta (as seen on Smitten Kitchen…see cook’s notes below). The white beans because that’s what I had on hand, and the penne because that’s what my son chose, and these days I’ll make anything he picks just so he’ll eat what I make for us. I probably would have chosen rotini, because i like the way sauces like this stick to the pasta. It was really great with the white beans, but next time I’m going to try it with the chick peas, which sounds really fantastic.

Use this recipe to make the Garlic-Rosemary Oil

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut in chunks
1 celery stalk, cut in chunks
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10-ounces small pasta shapes (I used Lumachine – see Cook’s Notes)

Place the first 6 ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place into a bowl and clean the food processor bowl. Set both aside. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can finely chop these ingredients and then blend together in a bowl.

Place the olive oil into a large heavy pot or skillet (I used a saute pan) over medium heat. Once shimmering add the chopped vegetables. Saute for 10 or so minutes, until golden, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste into 1 cup of water to blend. When vegetables are cooked, add the tomato water and blend thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, 5-8 minutes.

Creamy Chickpea Sauce

Add the chickpeas and 2 cups water to the pan. Stir to blend and then simmer for 15 minutes covered and 5 or so uncovered. Put 1 cup of this mixture into the food processor and puree. (You could use a blender for this in the absence of a food processor.) Add back to the pan and stir to blend. Taste and add salt, if needed. I did not add salt to the sauce – even with rinsing, there was plenty of salt in the chickpeas.*

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to directions. I emphasize al dente because otherwise I think you could end up with a gloppy mess. Part of the goodness of this dish is mouth appeal, and you do not want to lose that with overcooked pasta! Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining. Add drained pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the chickpea sauce. Stir to blend, adding more pasta water if necessary to coat the pasta and attain a creamy consistency. Pass the Garlic-Rosemary oil so it can be drizzled on individual servings. Don’t hold back on this key component of the finished dish!

COOK’S NOTES: I was looking at Smitten Kitchen the other day and saw something that looked similar to this except with white beans and penne pasta. On closer look, it was her take on the Bon Appetit recipe. (You can check it out to see several great photos of the cooking process.) Regarding the pasta, the original recipe called for a full pound of Ditalini and suggested elbow macaroni as a substitute. I think any small pasta shape would work well. I cooked the whole pound as instructed, but felt that it was way too much pasta and didn’t stir it all into the sauce. I will definitely make this again and try whole wheat pasta, thinking it will add to both taste and texture.

*Margaux’s note on the salt…my boys like their food on the saltier side, so I definitely needed to add more salt. I added about a teaspoon of it.

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

We’ve got colds around here right now, which prompted me to make a huge pot of chicken stock a couple of days ago.  I remembered this really tasty soup that I made a few years ago and thought it would be a nice change of pace from the traditional chicken noodle.  I think the biggest reason it occurred to me to make it is that it’s easy and fast.  Once you have the ingredients gathered together, it takes under 30 minutes start to finish.  That’s very appealing when one has a cold!

2 cups small pasta (small shells, small elbows, ditalini, orzo, etc.)

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 pound fresh Italian chicken sausages (roughly 4),  meat removed from casings and rolled into twenty 1-inch meatballs (pork would also work if chicken aren’t available)

6-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper OR

*Several grinds of Italian Street Fair spice blend

One 5-ounce bag baby spinach ( or 5 cups bulk), coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it is al dente, according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Make sure the pot/oil have heated completely or the meatballs will stick. Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat until they are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. (I found that I needed to do this in 2 batches.)  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a plate. Add the garlic to the pot and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, about 1 minute.

Add 2 cups of the chicken broth, bring to a simmer.  Add the meatballs to the broth and simmer until they are cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Add the remaining chicken stock – 4 cups for a less brothy end product, 6 cups for a more brothy soup – and season with salt and pepper (or Italian Street Fair blend).  Bring to a simmer or set aside for later use if you are making this ahead.  This soup base can be refrigerated for up to 3 days prior to serving.

Add the spinach and pasta to the simmering broth and cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted and the soup is piping hot, about 1 minute. Ladle into shallow bowls and serve.  Alternatively, if you are not going to serve all the soup in one meal, you can place a little pasta and a little of the spinach in individual bowls and ladle the piping- hot soup over to serve.

*If you happen to be lucky enough to live near a Spice and Tea Exchange, I highly recommend this blend that’s sold in a grinder. You can also order online – the link will take you to their site.

Cincinnati Chili

March 12, 2011

Cincinnati Chili - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Aunt Suzy got me a subscription to Bon Appetit, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot of posts with recipes from it. I love this magazine! It gives me tons of (much needed) ideas for weeknight dinners, and this one was one of them. The minute I saw the photo of it when I turned the page, I knew I had to make it. See, I grew up in Steak N’ Shake country, and this looks exactly like one of my favorites, Chili 5-Way. Of course, once I looked at the ingredients I knew that Cincinnati chili is much different from the Steak N’ Shake classic…I’m sure S N’ S doesn’t put cocoa powder in theirs…but that made me want to make it even more. And it is DELISH (I hate to say it, but worlds better than S N’ S Chili 5-Way)!

There’s only one small change I made to the recipe-I’m not from anywhere near Cincinnati, so I’m not sure if this small step makes it unauthentic-but the recipe calls for mixing the beans with the spaghetti noodles, and I’m recommending stirring the beans into the chili mixture instead. The small beans did not mix well with the long noodles, and it was difficult to get a good ratio of beans-to-noodles going in each bowl.  Also, because I was on a budget, I made it with ground beef instead of ground lamb, which is what the original recipe calls for.  I’m sure that would be fantastic, and I will be trying it sometime!

Cincinnati Chili - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Margaux’s post inspired me to run right out and to get the ingredients for this so I could make it immediately!  The recipe had also caught my eye in Bon Appetit – I’m a Steak N’ Shake girl, and I’ve loved Skyline Chili when I’ve had it in Cincinnati .  This is a “fancied-up” version – you can see more about authentic Cincinnati chili on this episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  I made some adaptions as well.  I cooked the meat first without the olive oil, then removed from the pan, sauteed the onions and garlic in a little olive oil, put the meat back in and proceeded with the recipe from there.  I used a combo of ground chicken/ground turkey and chicken stock.  It worked out well, which I thought it would since I do the same for sloppy joes. Be careful about the spices!  I inadvertently added 1 teaspoon of cloves, so the whole thing had slight clove overtones – it’s one strong spice!  I agree with Margaux that this is delicious and a fun Saturday or Sunday supper.

Cincinnati Chili
adapted from Bon Appetit

serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, lamb, turkey or chicken
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • scant teaspoon ground allspice
  • scant teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • scant teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 2 1/3 cups (about) low-salt beef broth or chicken stock, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • scant tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • Coarsely grated goat’s-milk Gouda cheese or goat’s-milk cheddar cheese
  • Chopped onions
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add the meat; cook until browned, breaking into pieces, about 15 minutes. Add cocoa and next 4 ingredients; stir 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups broth and next 6 ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until thickened, stirring often, about 1 hour. Spoon fat from top of chili. Season with salt and pepper. Thin with broth by 1/3 cupfuls. Stir in beans and 1 tablespoon parsley.
  • Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide spaghetti among bowls. Top with chili. Garnish with cheese, onions, and parsley.