The original recipe calls for gramigna pasta, but that would've required leaving the house in order for me to find it. Since the best part of this recipe is that it's a true pantry meal, I used what I had at home, which turned out to be these nifty looking guys that the fianc—e bought to make some soup ages ago. There are called ditalini, and though I’d never heard of them before, they worked extremely well. I’m sure any short shaped pasta would work well in this dish.
I found this in Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italy. And what’s truly important is the trinity of spinach, bacon, and chickpeas. Somehow this meager meal transforms into something truly comforting. Sure, bacon and its lovely fat can comfort any dish, but I was a little worried about the chickpeas interacting with the pasta. But all the chickpeas do is suck up the flavor, which makes this dish less like traditional pasta and more like a stew. Not bad for things that were hanging out in my pantry.
About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a co-founder of The Paupered Chef, a blog dedicated to saving time and money while enjoying food in every way possible. He sells wine for a living and lives in Columbus, Ohio.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 4 slices bacon
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped
- 1 pound pasta
- 1 cup pecorino or parmesan, freshly grated
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to instructions on the box, shaving off a minute or two.
Pour the olive oil into a skillet over medium heat. Toss in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bacon pieces and cook for 3 minutes or until they begin to render their fat. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes.
Dump in chickpeas and stir to coat. Then add the spinach leaves, and cook until wilted. Season with a pinch of salt and add a half a cup or so of the pasta cooking water.
When the pasta is done, add it to the pan with spinach and chick peas. Cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or two.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.