One Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas, Tomatoes & Olives

5 from 1 vote

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Ready in less than 20 minutes, this easy orecchiette recipe ticks all the boxes for a weeknight vegetarian dinner. That’s because it is a one-pan pasta where the ingredients including the pasta, aromatics and other additions simmer together. What you end up with is al dente orecchiette with chickpeas and olives in a light tomato sauce. Then you stir in fresh cherry tomatoes, baby arugula and parmesan to finish it. 

If you love this pasta shape, try roasted cauliflower orecchiette with spinach pesto.

One pan pasta with chickpeas, tomatoes, olives and arugula in a skillet.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

You only need one pan to make this recipe, and it’s so much more than just pasta. This method of cooking is something you have to try to believe. One pot pasta ranks as one of Martha Stewart’s top recipes, and since then, there have been lots of different iterations. Besides reducing the amount of cleanup, you take advantage of all the starch in the cooking water, so you can make the pasta and the sauce at the same time.

This is a vegetarian orecchiette recipe. Italian sausage and broccoli rabe are often paired with this ear-shaped pasta, but you can use vegetables instead and still make a tasty and filling dinner.

The prep work is minimal. It’s a win-win when an easy recipe doesn’t involve a lot of other chopping to get the ingredients ready. Here all you have to do is drain and rinse the chickpeas from the can, slice a few garlic cloves, halve the tomatoes and grate the Parmesan cheese. 

The Ingredients

Ingredients including orecchiette, chickpeas, olives, tomatoes, arugula, parmesan, tomato pasta, garlic and water.

This is what you need:

  • Orecchiette pasta is wonderful because these little ears scoop up the sauce. They also spoon with the tomatoes, olives and chickpeas stirred throughout the dish.
  • Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans are one of my favorite pantry ingredients. After you drain them from the can and rinse them, pat them with a towel and pull off any loose skins.
  • Kalamata olives: It is important to use pitted olives otherwise it will be awkward to eat if you have to spit out the pits.
  • Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes will work in the recipe. Cherry tend to have thinner skins and are more juicy.
  • Baby arugula goes in when the pasta is cooked and sauced. The heat in the pan will wilt the greens. You can substitute with baby spinach. 
  • Garlic: The recipe calls for 2 garlic cloves, sliced.
  • Rosemary: Including 2 rosemary sprigs adds this fresh herb’s distinct taste to the pasta.
  • Tomato paste combined with starchy pasta water create the sauce. Keep in mind that it’s not a full tomato sauce, but it’s more than one that’s just olive oil. Think of the pasta as being lightly dressed.
  • Parmesan: You can either grate the cheese or take a vegetable peeler to shave it off the block for bigger, but still paper-thin pieces. Pecorino romano is a good swap. If you need the recipe to be vegan, you can leave out the cheese or use a plant-based substitute.
  • Olive oil: Use extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Chives: These fresh herbs are a simple way to add mild onion flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes, salt & pepper season the entire pasta dish.

How To Make One Pan Orecchiette

1. Assemble the ingredients in a large sauté pan or skillet. That includes the orecchiette, chickpeas, olives, tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, olive oil and water.

2. Bring everything to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes until the liquid has reduced into a sauce and the pasta is al dente. You want to stir it pretty often to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove the rosemary sprigs.

Orecchiette ingredients combined in a skillet. One pan pasta simmering.

3. Stir the Parmesan, arugula, cherry tomatoes and chives into the pasta. Sprinkle with additional cheese when serving.

Arugula, tomatoes and parmesan stirred into cooked pasta.

How To Serve Orecchiette

Spoon the pasta into a bowl or onto a plate and pair it with a simple salad like an arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette or a classic house salad. It is up to you, but you can also include a piece of crusty bread, so you can soak up some of the sauce.

Leftovers & Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. Warm them in the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat on the stove with little oil. Once they are warm, I recommend stirring in some fresh arugula. Keep in mind that leftovers will soften the longer you save them.

You can also eat leftovers cold as a pasta salad. Add lots of greens and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette. I like to go heavy on the lettuce when I do this to shift the balance more toward a salad than a pasta dish.

One pan pasta with chickpeas, tomatoes and olives on a plate.

Recipe Tips

You may need to add water. If the pasta doesn’t have that al dente texture yet and there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid left in the pan, add more water by the 1/4-cup-full. Be careful not to add too much.

Don’t forget to take out the rosemary springs before stirring in the arugula and cheese. Most of the needles will have fallen off, but you don’t want to find the stems in the pasta when you’re eating it.

When the pasta finishes cooking, taste it to see if you need more seasonings. This really comes down to personal preference, but always take a bite to check if the salt and pepper are at the right level.

Recipe FAQs

Can you use gluten-free pasta for this recipe?

I haven’t tested it using anything other than regular pasta. If the cook time for chickpea pasta or another gluten-free variety is shorter than 10-12 minutes, you will need to reduce the amount of water.

How do you make this recipe vegan?

Either leave out the parmesan cheese or use a plant-based, dairy-free substitute. You can sprinkle the final dish with nutritional yeast.

More Easy Pasta Recipes

Burst Tomato Pasta
Lemon Pepper Pasta
Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
Chickpea Spinach Pasta
Roasted Brussels Sprout Pasta
Fresh Herb Pappardelle
Tomato Basil Pasta
Cherry Tomato Eggplant Pasta
Lemon Mushroom Spaghetti

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One Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas, Tomatoes & Olives

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 17 minutes
Servings: 6
Ready in less than 20 minutes, this easy orecchiette recipe ticks all the boxes for a weeknight vegetarian dinner because it's a one-pan pasta where all the ingredients simmer together.

Ingredients 

  • 12 ounces orecchiette
  • 1-15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • 1-2 handfuls baby arugula
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives

Instructions 

  • Put the orecchiette, chickpeas, olives, tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, olive oil and water in a large sauté pan or skillet.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-12 minutes until the liquid has reduced into a sauce and the orecchiette is al dente. (Add more water by the 1/4-cup full if the sauce reduces too much before the pasta is cooked).
  • Remove the rosemary sprigs. Stir in the Parmesan, arugula, cherry tomatoes and chives.
  • Garnish with additional Parmesan before serving.

Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat them in the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat on the stove with little oil. When you have warmed them, stir in fresh arugula leaves. Keep in mind that leftovers will soften the longer you keep them.
You can also eat leftovers cold as a pasta salad. Add lettuce and a splash of the vinaigrette or your choice.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Nutrition

Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 771mg | Potassium: 375mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 441IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Pasta & Noodles
Cuisine: Italian
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Hi, I'm Paige.

Welcome to Last Ingredient where you will find simple seasonal recipes with plenty of fruits and vegetables, all for the home cook.

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