Chickpeas: Neither Chick Nor Pea: Discuss...

In our house, I am solely responsible for planning our meals, as well as planning the grocery runs that make them possible. I sit down every Thursday or Friday and look at the store ads online to see what the best bargains are for the week. Then, I conduct a mental (and sometimes physical inventory of the fridge, and what ingredients need to be utilized in short order. Next, peruse my Pinterest boards to see what new recipes I could try that best combine items that are on sale with items we already have, and finally, I write down a list of what ingredients we need to buy.

Given that all this decision-making falls on me, it would be easy to abuse this power and impose my culinary vision on Justin however I see fit. I could easily eliminate ingredients from our diet that don't appeal to me, but for the most part, I strive to make my kitchen dictatorship a benevolent one.

This is why I decided to include a variation on pasta e ceci, or pasta with chickpeas, a classic Italian pairing, in this week's meal rotation. I've never been much of a fan of the legume, in fact, I eschewed eating hummus at all until the past couple years or so, but my beloved loves chickpeas almost as much as he loves me.

I think he also loved this recipe because he was able to do almost all the chopping in the food processor, which is a huge time-saver compared to the usual recipes I request him to make that require lots of meticulous chopping my hand. (It was truly a stroke of tremendous foresight to have signed us up for that knife skills class back in the early days of our relationship!) 

It did have an added step, in the form of creating a garlic and rosemary-infused olive oil to drizzle over the top of the finished dish, but we felt that the effort-to-result ration was skewed in its favor -- it really brought something special to the dish, and rescued it from being bland. As for me, I felt that the starch-on-starch of the beans with the pasta was a little much for me, though the chickpeas maintained their texture surprisingly well. For a non-chickpea lover, this wasn't actually a good thing, but the dish benefited from having a bit of textural contrast, even if I was left longing for some meat, or nuts, or really anything besides the garbanzos.

Still, Justin really liked this dish, so I'll be sure to incorporate it into our future meal planning. After all, I'm always on the lookout for something to do with the giant seven pound cans of chickpeas he buys from a nearby ethnic grocery store. A girl can only eat so much hummus, and even if I'm not super enthusiastic about this dish, it could be a welcome change of pace...

Ditalini with Chickpeas and and Garlic-Rosemary Oil
adapted from Bon Appétit

1 medium onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, 4 whole, 2 chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 pound ditalini or elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1. Pulse onion, carrot, celery, whole garlic cloves, parsley, and red pepper flakes in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor bowl and set aside.
2. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; add reserved vegetable mixture, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8-10 minutes. Stir tomato paste and 1 cup water in a small bowl to combine; add to pot. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 5-8 minutes.
3. Add chickpeas and 2 cups water to pot and simmer for 15 minutes to let flavors meld. Transfer 1 cup chickpea mixture to food processor; purée until smooth, then stir back into sauce to thicken.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
5. Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.
6. Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small sauce­pan over medium-low heat; add chopped garlic and rosemary and cook until sizzling stops, about 1 minute. Divide pasta among bowls and drizzle with garlic-rosemary oil.

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