Random Bag Night – Pasta with Chickpeas

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Today was our last ski day of the season, ironically ahead of a huge snowstorm moving in tonight…  But I digress…

It was another reach-into-the-cabinet-and-surprise! type of meal tonight. We had a hankering for pasta, and to health it up a little I am adding chickpeas (though very offset by the presence of pancetta in the pan… ). Here is the recipe:

1/2 lb short pasta (I used whole wheat rotelle)

1 16oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 16oz can diced tomato

1/2 onion, chopped

3 tablespoons chopped pancetta

1/4 cup dry white wine

8-9  black oil-cured olives

3 cloves of garlic, slightly smashed but still in large chunks

1 sprig of thyme

3 tablespoons of olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

A quick note – You’ll see i said “slightly smashed garlic” – which is something that you achieve by laying the side of your knife on top of a garlic clove, and VERY CAREFULLY applying pressure with your hand to smash the clove. This makes the garlic much easier to peel, and it releases the garlic flavoring while leaving you with a large enough chunk to fish out. I almost always do my garlic this way because I love the flavor but don’t like to ingest a lot of actual garlic clove – nothing says “mmm pretty” like a nice garlic belch, eh?

This one is pretty simple, I like to start the sauce a little before I turn the heat on under the pasta water. Place the olive oil in a saucepan and turn on to medium heat. Add onion and pancetta, stirring regularly to avoid burning the onion but not so often that there isn’t any carmelization. Once the onion has started to soften a little, add the garlic and thyme sprig and continue to stir.

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After about 5 or 6 minutes, the onions should be pretty soft with hopefully a little bit of brown bits starting to form at the bottom of the pan. At that point, add chickpeas and stir. Allow to cook for about 1 minute, then add wine and a pinch of salt. Allow the wine to simmer off a touch before adding the tomatoes (maybe a minute) and olives. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir on occasion.

Once your pasta is done the sauce should be ready. Drain the pasta and toss with some sauce. Garnish with grated cheese of your choice.

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