Chickpea Pasta with Spinach
on Mar 28, 2022, Updated Jul 08, 2022
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
With spinach, lemon, garlic and Pecorino, this super easy chickpea pasta recipe is ready in about 20 minutes. It’s vegetarian and gluten-free.
Table of Contents
This recipe is an ode to an ingredient that always makes my top 10 list of pantry staples. To put it simply, chickpeas are the absolute best. Whether at their most basic and dried, or at their most convenient and canned, with some straightforward easy cooking, you can create something pretty great.
And now at the grocery you can buy them transformed into chickpea flour pasta. To go with that, I like to sauté actual chickpeas until they are crisp and combine them with lemon, Pecorino cheese and garlic. It’s a quick meal that you can just spoon into a large bowl for a total vegetarian crowd-pleaser.
And you don’t have to aspire to entertain with it because it’s really the perfect dish for a busy weeknight too. It’s the kind that you will have on regular rotation.
What Is Chickpea Pasta?
There are so many alternative noodles out there. From whole wheat to lentil to black bean to quinoa, nowadays there are a lot more options than regular pasta. Not that there is anything wrong with the usual blend of flour, water and eggs.
These new versions pack in more nutrition including fiber and protein and are generally lighter on carbs and calories than traditional pasta. The flavor is different. I would say they are a bit chewier and have more texture. Just know going in that these pastas have their own personality and aren’t exactly trying to imitate the real thing.
Made from legumes, chickpea pasta is gluten-free. It’s available in lots of the familiar shapes. When you cook it, the water does develop a foam. That’s why I like rinsing it off before tossing it in warm sauce or pesto or in a skillet with oil and veggies.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This is what you need:
- Chickpea pasta is my first choice, but don’t let that stop you from making this recipe. You really can do it with any variety. Besides rotini, my other shape recommendations include cavatappi, gemelli and casarecce. Just keep in mind your choice if you need it to be gluten-free pasta.
- Chickpeas: I could give you countless reasons to keep a few cans of chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) in your pantry. They are wonderful for soups, salads, and in this recipe. Just crack open a can, dump them into a strainer and rinse them off before sautéing.
- Spinach: The ingredient list calls for torn spinach leaves because they will wilt even faster in the heat when they are in smaller pieces. For greens, you could also use kale or arugula. Tougher and heartier leaves will require a couple extra minutes to soften.
- Pecorino is an Italian hard cheese made from sheep’s milk. It’s salty and nutty. You can swap it out and use Parmesan cheese instead.
- Lemon is a must for simple pastas that rely on oil and cheese instead of something more substantial like tomato sauce to coat the noodles. Using both the zest and the juice really gives it a nice, strong hit of citrus.
- Olive oil: Acknowledging that this is a rather short ingredient list, you want to use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
- Garlic: Three minced garlic cloves may sound like a lot, but it will balance with the flavor of the lemon and Pecorino.
- Red pepper flakes, kosher salt & black pepper are the blend of dried seasonings that sauté with the garlic. The red pepper flakes will add some heat and spice.
- Parsley: To me, the pasta doesn’t taste quite complete without fresh herbs like parsley. You can also use minced chives or a mix.
If you want to include more flavors and textures, you can treat this like a base and add a few extras including:
- Nuts such as pine nuts, walnuts or almonds are all great crunchy extras. Chop them if they are larger pieces.
- Roasted chicken is good if you are looking for a more hearty pasta. You can slice or shred it. Or serve the pasta as a side dish to go with it.
- Vegetables including mushrooms, red peppers or chopped fresh tomatoes can be sautéed in the skillet. And you can also use leftover roasted veggies too and reheat them before combining them with everything else.
How To Make Chickpea Pasta with Spinach
Cook the pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted boiling water. Make sure not to overcook it. You want the noodles to be al dente and have some bite. Rinse the pasta with cold water in a colander.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Sauté the chickpeas until they are golden and crisp. This will take 5-6 minutes. Stir them around the pan, so they cook evenly on all sides.
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Keep cooking, giving the garlic 30 seconds to a minute to become fragrant.
Stir the pasta, lemon juice & zest and another tablespoon of olive oil into the chickpeas.
Add the spinach, Pecorino and parsley. Stir everything together. The greens will wilt in a couple minutes.
Sprinkle with additional Pecorino before serving.
This chickpea pasta recipe is great for a fast and easy lunch or dinner. You can serve it with a simple arugula salad or something a little more involved like a brussels sprout Caesar salad. I love it as a vegetarian main dish.
My favorite way to serve leftovers cold is as a pasta salad. I recommend adding fresh spinach leaves and a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Since cold food tends to need more seasoning than hot food, I also sprinkle on flaky sea salt and black pepper to finish it.
If you prefer eating it warm, reheat it on the stove with a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
More Chickpea Recipes
Let me know if you made this chickpea pasta. Please leave a comment and rating below. Thanks!
Chickpea Pasta with Spinach
- 8 ounces rotini chickpea pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup torn baby spinach
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and rinse in a fine mesh strainer.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chickpeas and sauté occasionally stirring around the chickpeas. They will turn crispy and golden in about 5-6 minutes.
- Then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, cooking for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Stir in the pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Add the spinach, Pecorino cheese, and parsley. The greens will wilt in a couple minutes.
- Top with additional Pecorino before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.