This easy delicious chickpea pasta is perfect for those times when you just can’t make it to the grocery store. Although it may seem basic, the techniques covered in this recipe turn these ordinary ingredients into a mouthwatering meal that’s versatile enough to be adapted to whatever you have on hand. I’m also going to share five variations that you can make with just a few tweaks to the seasonings.
Why this recipe works
- Chickpeas are not only a great source of protein, but they also contain a ton of umami producing amino acids, which makes this quick pasta taste like it’s been simmering for a long time.
- By undercooking the pasta and finishing it off in the sauce, the pasta absorbs the excess liquid from the sauce, thickening it up nicely without having to reduce it for a long time.
- This also infuses the pasta with the flavor of the sauce.
- The liquid the chickpeas come packed in is flavorful, and perfect for adding to the sauce to keep it from getting too thick as the pasta cooks.
- The pasta, chickpeas, and seasonings can be adapted to whatever you have in your pantry.
Ingredients for Chickpea Spaghetti
- Chickpeas – I’ve used a pack of precooked chickpeas here, but other legumes such as kidney beans, or white beans will work great, and if you don’t have canned ones, you can rehydrate and cook dried chickpeas as well (though this will take a lot more time).
- Pasta – I’ve used spaghetti because I have a ton of it in the pantry, but whatever pasta you have on hand will work.
- Olive Oil – A mild creamy extra virgin olive oil will work best, but you can use almost any oil in a pinch. I add more oil to this than I usually would. This gives the sauce richness and body since it does not include any meat.
- Garlic – Garlic makes any savory dish taste better, and this Chickpea Spaghetti is no exception. If you don’t have garlic, other members of the Allium genus, such as onions, leeks, or scallions, will work.
- Chili Flakes – This is optional, but I like adding chili flakes to spice this up a bit. I used Gochugaru, which are Korean chili flakes, but anything will work. Just be sure to adjust the amount you add based on the heat-level of the chili and your tolerance.
- Fresh Tomatoes – If you have them, some fresh tomatoes will add a subtle fruity flavor to your sauce. If you don’t have any, don’t worry about it, just increase the amount of tomato puree.
- Tomato Puree – I used a jar of tomato puree, but only preserved tomato products such as stewed whole tomatoes or tomato sauce will work. One canned product I recommend avoiding is chopped tomatoes. The tomatoes for these are picked before they are ripe so they’ll hold their shape, so they tend to be very sour and unbalanced. If you do end up with a very acidic can of tomatoes, you can add a small amount of sugar or ketchup to make it taste better. This works because it mimics the sweetness of ripe tomatoes while mellowing out the acidity.
- Plant-Based Parmesan – This flavorful topping is made from raw cashews and walnuts along with nutritional yeast and dried shiitake mushroom powder. You can get the recipe for my vegan parmesan here.
- Herbs – To keep this as simple as possible, I only used a bit of parsley for garnish, but you can add any combination of dried or fresh herbs to the sauce as you like.
How to make Chickpea Pasta
The first thing you want to do is put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil the pasta. I usually add 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water. Covering the pot with a lid will make the water boil faster.
Next, you want to drain the chickpeas, while reserving the liquid to add into the sauce as needed. If your chickpeas have a bunch of starch at the bottom, you may want to rinse them lightly to get rid of it; otherwise, it can make your sauce too thick.
Because this sauce comes together so quickly, be sure to do all your chopping and measuring before you start making it. When you’re ready, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and garlic and saute it until it’s cooked through and fragrant, but don’t let it brown.
Add the chili flakes to the oil and swirl it around in the oil a few times. Don’t overdo this, or the chili will burn, making the sauce bitter. If you are adding other spices to the sauce, this is a good time to do it.
Now you want to add the fresh tomatoes and sauté them until they’ve dissolved and their excess liquid has evaporated.
Add the chickpeas, tomato puree and salt to the sauce and bring the mixture to a boil. If you want to add other herbs such as basil, oregano or thyme, this is a good time to do it.
By now, your pasta should be 2-3 minutes from being cooked. Drain it and add it to the sauce to finish cooking together. Be sure to stir it regularly so that the spaghetti cooks through evenly. If the sauce starts getting too thick, or the pasta starts sticking together, add some of the chickpea liquid to loosen it up.
To finish it off, add the plant-based parmesan cheese and toss the pasta around to incorporate it.
Variations of Chickpea Spaghetti
As good as this is, it would get old after a few consecutive meals, so here are a few ideas for variations to keep things interesting. If you think of some new combinations, leave a comment and share it with all of us!
- Mediterranean – Add olives, capers and lemon zest to the sauce to give it a
- North African – Add harissa, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander along with some raisins. You could also do away with the spaghetti and serve the sauce over couscous.
- Alla Vodka – Add some vodka before the fresh tomatoes and boil off the alcohol. Then, you can add some cream (or coconut cream) at the end.
- Texmex – Add chili powder (the spice blend) with the chili flakes. You can also add in some fresh green chilies and onions when you’re sauteing the garlic.
- Indian – Saute an equal amount of ginger with the garlic. Add whole cumin and mustard seeds with the chili flakes. Add garam masala (or curry powder) in with the tomato puree.
It depends on what kind of pasta you use. If you use a gluten-free pasta, the other ingredients should be gluten free.
Yes, this is 100% plant-based.
Other Pantry Pastas
cooked chickpeas in liquid (1 small can)
garlic (3 extra-large cloves)
chili flakes (to taste, I used 1 Tbs gochugaru)
tomatoes (2 small tomatoes, chopped)
tomato puree (1 small can)
- 1 tablespoon
Parsley (for garnish)
Drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid it came in separately.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and boil the spaghetti for 2-3 minutes less than what the package directions say.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and garlic. Saute until the garlic is fragrant and cooked through.
Add the chili flakes and swirl it around with the garlic and olive oil for a few seconds.
Add the tomatoes and saute until they start losing their shape, and they are no longer watery.
Add the chickpeas, tomato puree, and salt.
When the pasta is 2-3 minutes shy of being done, drain it and add it to the chickpea sauce. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce until it is done to your liking. If the sauce starts gets too thick, add some of the chickpea liquid in to thin it out.
Finish the pasta by tossing in the plant-based parmesan cheese.