Pesto Penne With Chickpeas
8 ounces frozen spinach (bagged, not in a block)
12 to 16 ounces mini penne or other small dried pasta shape
One 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas
One 1.5-ounce chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 cloves garlic
2 cups packed fresh basil, plus a few leaves for garnish
¼ cup pecan halves (may substitute pine nuts)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Place the spinach in a colander in the sink to defrost and drain while you make the rest of the dish.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch or two of salt and the pasta; cook according to the package directions (somewhat firm), then strain out the water, reserving 1 cup. Leave the pasta in the pot.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas; smash a few of them, if you would like. Then stir them into the cooked pasta (to warm up). Meanwhile, use a Microplane or box grater to grate the cheese, to yield about 1/3 cup.
Drop the garlic into a food processor with the motor running, so it becomes finely chopped. Stop to add the basil, nuts, half the cheese, half the oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt; pulse to create a coarse puree. With the motor running, gradually add the remaining oil and puree until smooth.
Use your hands to squeeze excess moisture from the spinach and then place the greens in a serving bowl. Add the pesto and pasta-chickpea mixture, then toss to incorporate. Add a splash or two of the reserved pasta cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Taste and season with salt, as needed.
Divide among bowls; top with the remaining cheese, some torn basil leaves and a drizzle of oil.
Serves 4 to 6
Nutrition | Calories: 510; Total Fat: 25 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 360 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 57 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugars: 3 g; Protein: 15 g.
Adapted from "Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World," by Sam Kass (Clarkson Potter, 2018).