In late March and early April, there’s a limit to my cuisinal inspiration. With the supply of root vegtables dwindling, and the advent of most spring greens (not to mention asparagus or snap peas) yet to come, I struggle every single year with this time period of seasonal eating. I recognize that in a few short months I’ll heap my kitchen counters with more perishable fruits and vegetables than I can eat, preserve, or freeze, but in the meantime, my creativity feels taxed, especially with this recent spell of 70 degree weather that just begs for an edible partner.
There are still items to enjoy from the market and our CSA, including sorrel, arugula, and brassicas’ tender-and-pretty raab/rapini. After we’ve exhausted our weekly, fairly limited supply of spring greens or parsnips, we turn to a collection of go-to dishes that don’t rely on seasonality (though an addition of a seasonal ingredient is always welcome).
One such dish is a chickpea pasta. For several years, we religiously cooked River Cottage’s version, tossing the chickpeas with lemon zest and mingling them with smaller pasta shapes like campanelle. We even went so far as to proclaim that we’d never need another chickpea pasta dish. Enter the Franny’s cookbook. The first time we cooked their chickpea pasta, we knew that the River Cottage version was destined to reside on a list of ‘used to cook’ dishes, tossed aside for its flashier, crispier relative. (No hard feelings, River Cottage.)
Last week, after a long workday capped off with errands, we wrestled with the temptation of going out to eat, but couldn’t settle on anything we craved more than pasta. Despite the clock hovering around 8pm, we rallied ourselves with an already open bottle of wine, and settled into a familiar rhythm: start the pasta water, fry the chickpeas (luckily, I’d already cooked a batch a dried chickpeas for a different dish), prep the anchovies and garlic, and chop the parsley. With concentration and practice – and yes, we’ve had lots of practice with this dish – we can transition from moving with rushed, irritated, hunger-induced movements to sitting at our dining table in 30 minutes.
In an effort to distract myself from my own hunger, and because this pasta is truly a one cook endeavor, I snuck out the Fujifilm and shot Justin while he prepped the meal. Nothing is styled (spy that empty wine bottle in the background?), things are a bit frantic, but the end result (even without a complimentary napkin or a fancier bowl) is the same: a homecooked meal that tastes as good as the first time, every single time.
Spaghetti with Chickpeas
Recipe Source: Franny’s
- 3/4 cup olive oil (plus more for later)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
- 8 garlic smashed garlic cloves
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped mint
- salt & pepper
- lemon juice, to taste
- In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the chickpeas and fry without stirring for 3-5 minutes, until they are dark on one side. Add another 1/4 cup of olive oil along with the garlic cloves and cook until the garlic is fragrant and golden, around 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, start heating a large pot of salted water. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until 2 minutes shy of al dente. Drain.
- After the garlic is golden, add the anchovies and cook, stirring and mashing, until they dissolve. Add the chili flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan and remove from the heat.
- Toss the spaghetti in the skillet or dutch oven with the chickpeas, herbs, and pepper. Cook, tossing, until the pasta is al dente (1-2 minutes), add more water if necessary. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste.
- Divede into bowls and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!