January 3, 2011

The Old is New

I haven't cooked in weeks.  Aside from the appetizer or snack to bring along to a party/get together or the roughly 15 dozen cookies I baked up in one night, I haven't made any real sort of food in far too many days.  My apartment has been host to out of town friends who required refueling on California burritos, carne asada fries and In-N-Out burgers and my fridge has been stocked with leftovers galore.  Which is to say, this is a perfect time to play catch-up on the backlog of entries in my queue.

I couldn't tell you when I made this pasta, and even if I could, I wouldn't because it was an embarrassing amount of time ago.  Like, there aren't enough fingers and toes on maybe 2 people to count how many days ago, maybe more.  I do, however, remember this pasta quite fondly.   A delicate sweet tomato sauce bubbling away on the stove, creamy chickpeas folded into the mix along with some fragrant basil.  Notwithstanding that this recipe was published as a "carbo-load" in the New York Magazine just prior to the New York Marathon, it's quite healthy so long as you don't follow the part where 1 pound of pasta is the serving size for 2-3 marathoners.  I don't know about you, but I'd be hard pressed to finish a half pound of pasta on my own.  In one sitting.  Heck, if I cooked a pound of pasta D and I would be eating it for the better part of a week and by the end someone - okay, you don't need to twist my arm, it'd be me - would be moaning and groaning about having to even look at the stuff one more time.

So here it is, revamped and revised in a more practical form, at least for us.  The amount of pasta cut in half but with the original measures for the sauce and still serving 4 newly resolved and health conscious people.  (See?  Look at me, looking out for your resolutions!)

Chickpea and Tomato Pasta
Adapted from New York Magazine 

A few notes.  After reading several reviews on the recipe it was widely agreed upon that either the sauce needed to be doubled or the pasta halved; I opted for using half the pasta because around here 1/2 a pound of the stuff easily feeds 4.  I made the boo-boo of using angelhair instead of spaghetti which I would recommend against you making the same mistake, especially if there will be leftovers.   The thin pasta gets soggy and breaks apart, highly undesirable.  Bacon instead of pancetta?  Surely.  Short on chicken broth?  You can use a dry white wine or else a mixture of water and dry vermouth in its place like I did.  It was still delicious.

 4 servings

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced bacon (just under 2 ounces)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
15 ounces canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained or about 2 cups, freshly cooked chickpeas
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons dry vermouth
Pinch chile flakes
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
10 to 15 basil leaves, each torn in 2 or 3 pieces
Salt to taste
1/2 pound dry spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the diced bacon and cook until it begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the onions and sauté until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and sauté for 1 minute more.

Set aside 1/3 cup of the chickpeas, and place the rest of the chickpeas in a food processor with the water and dry vermouth. Pulse until the mixture reaches a chunky-smooth consistency, like chunky peanut butter.  Add the mixture, tomatoes, and basil to the skillet. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions. When the pasta is almost done, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid, and then drain. Add the pasta to the sauce along with the remaining chickpeas. Toss, adding the pasta liquid if necessary. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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