Pantry Pasta with Kale, Chickpeas and Sun Dried Tomatoes

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I am not ashamed to admit that I look at strangers’ Facebook photos. That I read Fifty Shades of Grey. Or that I adapted this recipe from the back of a package. Yes, I mean Toll House cookie style.


To be fair, I was hugely pregnant and expecting a last minute dinner guest.   There was almost nothing in the fridge, and ordering takeout seemed too much of a compromise. And so I rifled through my pantry and freezer, where a forgotten bag of frozen kale, and its “suggested serving” recipe, caught my eye.



In my pre-Bean days, I turned my nose up at these back-of-the-package recipes, considering them marketing ploys designed only for the most unimaginative of home cooks. But, honestly, what’s not to like about a recipe for which you already have the main ingredient?
This particular back-of-the-package meal has become a fixture around my dinner table. Since discovering it a couple of years ago, I have probably made it almost once a week. It combines a few basic pantry staples–an onion and garlic, whole grain pasta, chick peas and julienned sun dried tomatoes–with a whackload of frozen kale and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Delicious? Check. Nutritious? Check. Dead easy? Check.




Frozen kale is an awesomely easy way to get your family eating more of the supercharged green stuff, but if you can’t find it, or you have a little more time or patience, I’m sure a finely chopped bunch of fresh kale would be a perfect substitute.
I have been known to double and even triple this recipe and freeze batches of it for later. It freezes and defrosts surprisingly well, particularly if you leave the pasta a little more al dente than you normally would.






Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat or spelt rotini (or any other short pasta)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or 2 tablespoons of the sun dried tomato oil and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 small onion, cut in half and then chopped into thin half moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilies (optional)
  • 1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups frozen chopped kale (I use the Cookin’ Greens brand)
  • 1 (~200 mL / 7 ounce) jar oil-packed julienned sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper (about 10-15 turns of the pepper grinder) and sea salt
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions, and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil or sun dried tomato oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Add garlic and chilies (if using) and cook for a minute more or until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Drain sun dried tomatoes of their oil or remove them from oil using a slotted spoon, and then stir sun dried tomatoes, chick peas and frozen kale into the onion mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until kale is hot.
  4. Toss pasta with kale mixture, adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil and enough pasta water to get a consistency you are happy with. (I usually end up using about an eighth to a quarter cup of water.)
  5. Stir in pepper and parmesan cheese, and add salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon).