Tonight’s vegetarian meal had an ingredient of which I was a little skeptical. I very much like it with raw or blanched vegetables and as a spread on sandwiches, but the thought of using it to make a sauce for pasta had just never occurred to me. Not sure how the dish would be received with this knowledge public I didn’t say anything, at first.
I had planned on making a squash and sage risotto for dinner, but with an hour and a half of active cooking time, it was just not in the cards (we got caught in a pretty powerful rain storm [first thunder and lightening of the year!] on the way home from the coop and Tim had to run home to get the car for Little E and I who waited it out in the warmth of the bakery). So I opted for this pasta dish instead; which took less than half an hour to prepare. The most time intensive activity was charring the tomatoes over a hot skillet, and even that required more than time (stirring was not required). I made a few tweaks to the original recipe, to make use of things that I had on hand (and to substitute for things that I did not). Although everyone liked the dish as it was made, I think that if I make this again I’ll make sure to include the olives- they would add a nice saltiness and great color to the meal. The cilantro was key, so don’t skip it. A little fresh grated Parmesan or shaved Pecorino Romano would also be a nice addition as might something crunchy- toasted walnuts for something with more flavor, or pine nuts for something more subtle.
Oh, and the “secret” ingredient? Hummus. I know, but try it.
Pasta with Chickpeas and Charred Tomatoes
8 ounces penne pasta (I used some whole wheat and some rice pasta, cooked separately)
1/2 cup purchased plain hummus
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 12-ounce bags cherry tomatoes
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
4 (or to liking) garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup halved pitted kalamata olives (we didn’t have olives, so I added half a bag of spinach)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Whisk the cooking water into the hummus until it reaches the desired consistency (not too watery, but sauce-like).
Meanwhile, heat oil in large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until blackened in spots, shaking skillet occasionally (this will take about 8 minutes). Mix in chickpeas, garlic, and paprika. Cook for a few minutes, then add spinach and cover the to allow the spinach to wilt. Add pasta and enough hummus mixture to coat (for this step I added the mixture to the pasta instead, which worked well). Mix in cilantro; season with salt and pepper.