food & wine’s orecchiette with spinach, mozzarella and chickpeas
There are those times I read through letters to the editor in my many cooking magazine subscriptions, jealous of those that write in with their threats to end subscriptions over all manner of slights from the editorial staff. Then again, I often wonder if someone is so willing to toss a subscription over a cover, first month of editorial change or single article…how often were they really cooking from the magazine anyway? Because I mostly think, “how many subscriptions do I need anyway?” and then I inevitably find a recipe like Food & Wine’s Orecchiette with Greens, Mozzarella and Chickpeas in their September issue that I want to make right away. Who tosses a whole subscription over a bad decision on Top Chef and then misses out on something like this?
These were the ingredients as I used them:
- 1/2 pound orecchiette
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1 cup drained canned chickpeas, patted dry
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1-2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 10 oz spinach
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cub
- basil leaves, torn
My modifications aren’t terribly radical – I didn’t have greens on-hand, but had spinach and I cut down on the amount of oil in the main dish from 1/4 cup to somewhere between 1-2 tablespoons.
Frying the chickpeas isn’t as french-fried as it sounds. After rinsing canned chickpeas and drying them on a paper towel, I added just enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a pan. After 4-5 minutes on high heat, I had crispy chick peas (I rolled these around in the pan a lot) ready to drain and season with cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. At the same time, I was cooking the orecchiette pasta in another pot.
I’d sliced my larger grape tomatoes in half. After wiping the excess oil out of my pan, I loaded it up with olive oil and added the garlic and crushed red pepper for a few seconds (until it was nice and fragrant) over medium-high heat. Once I was smelling garlic and hot pepper, it was time to add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes:
The rest of the dish came together very quickly. I added the spinach to the pan and let it wilt quickly. Once the spinach wilted, I added the cooked orecchiette and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pan and tossed it all to mix. Once the spinach and pasta were thoroughly incorporated, I added the mozzarella (I’d diced it) and a few leaves of fresh basil I’d gotten at the farmer’s market way back when:
After a few minutes of stirring, the mozzarella melted and the flavors really came together. I was a bit light on the salt and pepper because I had seasoned chickpeas waiting to top the dish.
This serves four, but the fried chickpeas are addictive little suckers. So’s the pasta. Honestly, why would you get this wound up over one little article and miss out on something this good for a weeknight dinner?