Necessity truly is the mother of invention. You may recall that Mr. Foodie and I were without A/C for the first full month of summer weather. At several points it reached a balmy 89 degrees in our living room. This forced us to get creative with meal planning as we wanted to avoid cooking for any great length of time. We used the grill for most of our meat dishes, but we also discovered this little gem by chance – Chickpea, Artichoke pasta. Not only does this tasty little darling take less than 15 minutes to prepare, it requires no pre-planning, takes exactly one pot to cook it all, and satisfies even the largest appetite. And I love that is vegetarian! Mr. Foodie and I try to have several meatless meals a week because a) meat is expensive and b) Americans generally eat way too much meat.
When I say that this takes no pre-planning, what I mean is that you do not have to defrost anything, pre-cut anything, pre-cook anything. This is all made with boxed or canned ingredients – so you do have to pre-buy these items to pull this off in less than 15 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I generally keep several cans of chickpeas on hand because I like them in all sorts of things – soups, salads, eggs, plain by themselves as I shovel them into my mouth for a snack…you get the idea. Every time I grocery shop, I always grab a box of whole-wheat penne, bowtie, or corkscrew pasta (Mr. Foodie is picky about the shape of the pasta – no spaghetti! lol). And I either grab a batch of freshly made pesto from the olive bar and/or a bottle of my favorite jarred red sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I love making my own pasta sauce, but that would mean standing over the stove for at least 30 minutes for just the sauce – I have to budget time for that one. The canned artichoke hearts was honestly a whim purchase. I was restocking my chickpeas and I saw them. I thought, “those sound delicious right now, I’m sure I’ll find a use for them.” The beauty of a dish like this is you can put any canned (or fresh if you want to add cooking time) veggie that you have into it. Do you have roasted red peppers? Chop them up and add them in! Do you have leftover roasted cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts? Add them in!
For this version, I boiled the pasta w/ salt until al dente. I drained most of the cooking liquid out of the pot (but kept about a cup of liquid in there). I opened the red sauce can and added it. I added one can of drained, rinsed chickpeas and one can of drained, rinsed artichoke hearts. Mix together over low heat to warm through. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves if desired. Note: This is hearty. The whole wheat pasta is filling on its own, but add the protein-packed chickpeas and meaty artichoke hearts, and you will have one soul-satisfying meal with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.