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Chickpeas and Parsley Pesto

The Year in Food is one colorful, lush food blog. If there are times in the week when you need a little jumpstart in cooking inspiration, here is the first place to begin. A talented photographer, Kimberly Hasselbrink writes simple, seasonal recipes using lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. This recipe is a particularly good one—it’s packed with healthy spinach, protein-packed chickpeas and almonds, and topped with a delightful homemade parsley pesto. You’ll never look at pesto the same way again. While you will likely take over the chopping chores on this one, young kitchen helpers can mix the whole thing together and help get it to the table.

Ingredients

8 ounces pasta of choice

1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, separated

15 ounce can of chickpeas, thoroughly drained

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups coarsely chopped, fresh parsley

1/3 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach

2 quarters preserved lemon, chopped (equal to 1/2 lemon; substitute zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice if no preserved lemons on hand)

1/3 cup reserved pasta water

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a drizzle of olive oil and then cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water and then drain. Set aside in pot to keep warm.

2. While pasta is cooking, heat a medium skillet over a medium low flame. Add two teaspoons olive oil. Add one clove of the minced garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the chickpeas. Saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. Combine the remaining clove of garlic with the 1/3 cup of olive oil, the parsley and the almonds. Puree in a food processor until a coarse paste has formed.

4. Toss the warm pasta with the spinach leaves to wilt them. Add the pesto, chickpeas, preserved lemons and gently toss. If a little dry, add some of the reserved pasta water for creaminess.

5. Taste to see if the preserved lemons provide enough salt. Season to taste with sea salt if desired, along with freshly cracked black pepper. Best served immediately.

Serves 4

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