Tidbits: Typical pesto sauce has pine nuts in it, but I find them hard to come by, and expensive when I do. So one day I didn’t have any and made it regardless, and I couldn’t taste a difference…so add them if you want, if not, that’s cool too. I add sautéed veggies like broccoli and onion usually. I like adding extra garlic too. Also, you can use ravioli, tortellini, or gnocchi also.
Ingredients: 16 oz of your favorite pasta (fettuccine, penne, etc)
½ cup part skim ricotta
2 tbsp. parmesan
2 oz. fresh basil
1 oz. fresh parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional, tastes the same to me either way)
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper (freshly ground, not that shaker stuff!)
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta as directed
2. In the meantime, combine the rest of the ingredients in a food processor (a blender will work also)
3. Season the pesto to taste, adding more of any of the above ingredients until it’s just the way you like it
4. Drain the pasta, reserving about ¼ cup of the pasta water if you want to “thin out” the pesto. However, if you like the sauce thicker this won’t be necessary.
5. Put the pasta back in the warm pot and add the pesto (and water if desired).
This is a very easy, hearty, vegetarian, healthy dish that gets tastier as time goes on, all the flavors melding in the refrigerator and perfect for sopping up with some warm bread. It is a very forgiving dish, with the addition of several spices are optional if you can find them or have them, or even high/low temperatures or longer/shorter cooking time barely mattering.
Chickpeas are my favorite bean, so tasty yet I believe a pretty well liked ingredient (hummus!). Spinach is a bit more iffy, but in this dish it provides a bit of green to the more substantial chickpea and the sweet/tart of tomato, not so spinach-y. If you can’t find smoked paprika don’t worry, regular paprika is great as well, but if you can find it… yum!
A must with baguette, country boule (99 cents at Whole Foods), or even some pita bread.
Did I mention how healthy this dish is? Enjoy!
2 tbl olive oil, divided
1 pound spinach, washed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp of red pepper flakes (start with less if you don’t like heat)
1/4 tsp cayenne (leave out if don’t like spice)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika (I used hungarian, would be interesting to use sweet)
2 tomatoes (I used plum, any kind will do), chopped
1 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, with some liquid reserved
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tbl red wine vinegar/rice vinegar/white vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika* if using
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice, to taste
(The amounts on the spices – cumin/red pepper/cayenne/paprika/oregano/smoked paprika are all approximations, please spice to taste)
Heat large saucepan on medium heat and once heated put 1 tbl. olive oil and spinach.
Cook the spinach, rendering liquid and adding a bit of salt, stirring often til wilted, set aside.
Add 1 tbl. olive oil and sautee garlic, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, paprika until tomatoes are starting to make a lovely little sauce.
Add in chickpeas with some reserved liquid, tomato sauce, pinch of salt/pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to a bubbling simmer until the sauce reduces, stirring often, saucing the chickpea, about 10-15 minutes. Season to taste salt and pepper. (During this step, I add spices if I like a more bold flavor, if the sauce is a bit tart from the tomatoes, add more oregano, it will round out the flavor and bring that bit of sweetness).
Add spinach to mixture with the vinegar (will brighten the flavor of the dish), check again for salt/pepper, and continuing reducing on bubbling simmer til the chickpeas and spinach are just coated with the spiced tomato sauce, about 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat, add the smoked paprika, and spritz with lemon.