I made a whole mess of this on a Saturday night (just like the blogger who inspired my recipe) and had tons of filling leftovers for my upcoming workweek, which promises to be hectic. If I had to do this one over again, I’d probably use that new Philly Cooking Creme to add an extra punch of flavor instead of plain old cream cheese. But, it’s a little bit healthier the way I made it, with a few scoops of lite cream cheese and pasta water as a sauce.
- 1 package of whole grain pasta (I used Barilla Plus)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, sliced or chopped
- 1 can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
- 1 package frozen spinach, or a couple bunches fresh
- Pecorino cheese, freshly grated
- Olive oil
- A touch of butter for sauteeing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: red pepper flakes or chilli flakes, to taste (I used a touch)
Set pasta to boil. I like Barilla Plus because it has high fiber but tastes almost identical to regular pasta. I used a little less than a whole package (1 lb. of spaghetti).
If you are using frozen spinach, defrost it in the microwave for about four minutes and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add a touch of butter to keep the garlic and onion from burning, then add the chopped onion and minced garlic (because seriously, garlic that burns can ruin your entire dish). Saute 5 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and spinach, stirring. Season with salt and pepper and, if using, red pepper/chilli flakes to taste. Cook, stirring, for several minutes.
Add the cream cheese to the edge of the pan, letting it melt along the edges so that it doesn’t clump up in the middle of the pan as you stir it into the spinach mixture.
Drain pasta and set aside, reserving at least one cup of pasta water.
Add the pasta water bit by bit to the spinach mixture, stirring and adding more as necessary to achieve desired consistency.
Toss with pasta; taste and adjust seasonings (I added more salt and pepper).
Serve with freshly grated pecorino cheese. Voila!
Now, obviously this would taste best with fresh spinach and high-quality olive oil to drizzle on top before serving. But if all you have on hand is a block of frozen spinach and supermarket olive oil for cooking, that’s fine! It’s better to experiment and try new recipes than to hold back because you don’t have premium ingredients. In fact, next time I might even try it with Ricotta to give the dish some light fluffiness. This blog is about appreciating the freshness of natural food, but it’s also about fitting home cooking into your crazed schedule. So go ahead and adapt. And more importantly, enjoy!