If you've never played around with the possibilities of dry-cooking chickpeas (which is to say, not stewing or pureeing them), I would highly recommend it. Unlike other legumes like beans that don't stand up to high heat, chickpeas have an amazing tendency to turn nutty and crisp in a skillet or when roasted. As it happens, so does cauliflower, which also turns super caramelized and almost meaty. This wonderful intersection is where this recipe is born.
Once the two are roasted (quite simply with salt, pepper, and olive oil) they get tossed with a dollop of ricotta for creaminess along with warm pasta and chopped parsley. Shells are ideal, since they catch and hold the ingredients.
The recipe, from Everyday Food magazine, also calls for croutons made right in the oven while the vegetables are roasting. They were good, but next time I'd leave them out. The crunchy, nutty chickpeas provide all the crunch you need.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups cubed crusty bread
- 1 pound pasta, preferable shells
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss cauliflower and chickpeas with half of the olive oil along with a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast in a single layer, turning once during cooking, until chickpeas are golden and starting to turn crunchy, 25-35 minutes.
In the meantime, arrange bread on a second baking sheet and bake in oven until beginning to crisp but not dried out, about 10 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving some pasta cooking water.
Combine cooked pasta and cauliflower mixture in pot and toss with remaining olive oil. Add some pasta cooking water if necessary to achieve a creamy texture, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in parsley and croutons. Divide amongst bowls and top with ricotta.