This recipe is a combo of two dishes I’ve made in the past: Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Spinach Walnut Penne. We liked the flavor profile of the orecchiette dish plus the added veg and nut of the penne.
Orecchiette is a pasta that looks like a small saucer. It works well in this dish because you’ll often find a chickpea or a walnut sitting in the saucer with a bit of sauce.
This recipe has you cook the pasta in what will become the sauce instead of cooking the pasta separately and adding it to the sauce later. It eliminates a dirty pot and simplifies the work.
Orecchiette with Chickpeas, Spinach and Walnuts
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
- 1 medium onion, fine diced
- fine diced celery, equal in volume to the onion
- fine diced carrot, equal in volume to the onion
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 29 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 2 14.5 oz. cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
- 4 cups veggie broth
- 1 16 oz. pkg orecchiette pasta
- 1 12 oz. pkg. baby spinach
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- a mix of fresh herbs, chopped, totaling about 1 tsp.
- kosher salt, cracked black pepper
- First a note on the amount of onion, carrot and celery needed. Start by dicing the onion. Eye ball how much you have, say 3/4 cup, and then dice up the same of amount of celery and carrot. In the end you’d have 3/4 cup of onion, 3/4 cup of celery and 3/4 cup of carrot. Onions, carrots & celery all come in different sizes so I think this way is a bit more accurate.
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. When shimmering add the onion, celery and carrots along with a heavy pinch of salt. Stir to coat with oil and cook until the vegetables start to soften, anywhere from 7-10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and veggie broth. Bring to a boil.
- Stir in the orecchiette and chopped herbs, lower heat to a steady simmer and cover. Keep an eye on the amount of liquid in the pot; add water if needed so that the pasta has something to cook in/absorb.
- Test the pasta starting around 10 minutes. You want it to have a bit of chew when moving on to the next step as we will cook for several more minutes. In the version we made tonight the pasta took ~14 minutes to reach that point.
- Add the spinach and stir it in. Recover and cook for 3-4 minutes until the spinach has thoroughly wilted. Taste the liquid and add salt & pepper as needed.
- When ready to serve stir in the walnuts. Dish up into a wide bowl and add grated cheese to taste.
Confession time – I found the end product a bit bland. It could have used a bit of red pepper flake as suggested by the original orecchiette recipe. Maybe a bit of garlic with the onions, celery & carrot.