This recipe is inspired by my friend Julie (Julie, you don't have a blog I can link, do you?). We were chatting recently about vegetarian food, & she mentioned a recipe she uses a lot for pasta with chickpeas & kale. I don't have her recipe, but I liked the idea so I decided to play with it tonight. I was really pleasantly surprised, & found myself going back for a 2nd plateful because it was SO yummy!
Coming out of winter, this seems like a mostly seasonal dish. Kale has oddly not been part of the local food offering I have seen here through the fall/winter, despite being a "winter green", but it is widely available and seasonal in much of North America, I think.
This recipe was largely improvised, so quantities are entirely approximate. And I definitely recommend adjusting it to your own taste!
1/2 box of whole grain spaghetti (I found a new-to-me brand, Primo, which was much better than most of the whole grain pastas at the store)
2 T olive oil
1 bunch kale, washed & chopped (I omitted the stems, I'll be using them for broth--but you can use them, just put them in the pan 1st so they have longer to cook)
1 can chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
3 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmigianno Reggiano + more to garnish (use the good stuff here, it's a simple dish & the extra flavour is important)
salt & pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salting it heavily (pasta water should be salty like the sea!), and add spaghetti. Cook to al dente.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with oil over medium high heat. Add kale (you will probably have to add it in batches as it cooks down. I think I had at least 3 separate batches). Stir occasionally to expose more kale to the heat.
3. Once all kale is in the pan & wilted, add chickpeas & stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Push kale & chickpeas to edges leaving room in the middle of the pan. Add garlic & red pepper. Stir until fragrant, then mix into the kale.
5. Squeeze lemon juice over the kale mixture.
6. Reserve some of the cooking water from the pasta, & drain it. Stir a small amount of cooking water into the kale (adding the starchy water from cooking to the sauce typically helps the pasta & sauce bind together better. The exact amount to use varies, so start small and adjust to taste). Stir parmesan into the kale, and stir in spaghetti.
7. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve topped with additional parmesan. Enjoy!