Chickpea Pasta alla Puttanesca
Healthy Pasta doesn’t have to mean boring and tasteless pasta!
The constant struggle to try and avoid starchy carbs inevitably ends up with me consuming way more than I ever intend to, every time. But honestly, my jeans end up tighter as a result and my gut almost always hates me for it the next day; it doesn’t have to be that way. I am not here to say give up pasta for good. I’m just saying, save it for those special occasions and family dinners that beg for the real deal. When a craving strikes, opt for something healthy and equally delicious in its own right.
Banza Chickpea Pasta is a stand out and I’m here to tell you why. Let’s talk nutrition facts first. This pasta has nearly twice the amount of protein, quadruple the amount of fiber and almost half the amount of carbs! How could you not get curious enough to try it out? Also, it screams perfect meal planning option to me. Let’s not gloss over the most important issue at hand.
The single most important factor in favoring a flourless pasta over the traditional kind is ONE thing and one thing only and that is… TASTE. If it doesn’t taste good I’m not eating it. Chances are, you wouldn’t eat it either. Not in this case. The texture, flavor and chew of Banza is so good, I practically forget I’m not eating traditional pasta. So, in an effort to get creative with it, I came up with a simple, more traditional and super tasty version of Puttanesca I’d love to share with you.
Puttanesca, or “prostitute sauce” as most of us know, is an aromatic pantry sauce that comes from Naples, Italy dating around the mid-twentieth century, which was used to lure customer into brothels. It mostly consists of capers, olives, garlic, anchovies, tomatoes and olive oil with a few variations here and there.
My sauce keeps it simple and more true to how Italians from Italy usually make the sauce; without anchovies, less saucy than its Americanized counterpart and garlic infused oil rather than actual garlic in the sauce. I also added onions and a Harissa hot pepper paste by Mina to give some earthiness and richness to the sauce and topped it with fresh basil and parmesan shavings. Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street has a very similar version that follows the same basic method but I dare say, mine is ridiculous in flavor!
You can make this with regular pasta, but why? Banza’s chickpea pasta makes it really easy to enjoy a guilty pleasure food without the guilt! I was able to find it in most natural markets and stores like Target.
Let’s talk basics!
Before we get started, I should share some tips and tricks that might be useful while you are cooking.
Do not be afraid to salt your pasta water GENEROUSLY. As Samin Nosrat says, the water should taste like the summer sea which equates to about 2 tbs of kosher salt per quart. (BUY HER BOOK… TRUST ME)
Don’t add too much water to the pot - using half the amount of water allows for the pasta to become better able to absorb the sauce
Don’t over cook this pasta. In fact, don’t overcook any of your pasta! Especially if it’s going into a sauce to be coated. Undercook this pasta slightly. When you toss the pasta with the sauce, it will finish cooking from the heat of the sauce. If you don’t undercook it, it will become mushy and lose the ‘al dente’ chew that makes eating pasta so delicious.
Smash, don’t chop, the garlic just enough to break it apart but keep the clove together. When you drop it into the pan, it will let the seasoning of the garlic spill into the oil, flavoring the oil really well.
Separate the whole tomatoes from the sauce before starting. Reserve the sauce and save the leftovers for a future recipe.
Mise-en-place: Prep all of your ingredients ahead of time. This recipe comes together quickly so it’s essential to have everything handy and ready to go.
Let’s Cook - scroll below for the video how-to!
Chickpea Pasta alla Puttanesca Recipe
Prep – 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 min
12 oz Banza brand Chickpea Rotini, (search for it here)
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, juices reserved.
1/2 medium onion, medium diced
1 cup green and black mixed olives, pitted and roughly chopped
7 oz capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, bruised
2 tbs Harissa paste, (Mina is my favorite brand which you can buy here)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
½ Cup lightly packed fresh basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Red pepper flakes, and fresh grated Parmigiana for garnish
In a large pot, bring roughly 2 quarts of water to a boil. Salt the water generously… about 1tbs Kosher (2 if using Diamond Crystal brand). Add chickpea pasta and cook for roughly 5 minutes or just until pasta is slightly under ‘al dente.’ Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, drain and set pasta aside.
Crush the whole tomatoes by hand until all large pieces are small. In a large skillet over medium, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook basting the garlic in the oil until the garlic turns golden and oil is infused with the garlic; about 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan off the heat, discard garlic and return the pan to the stove. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the capers and olives and sauté on medium-high until the capers turn golden. Add the harissa paste, stir to incorporate and sauté about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to incorporate, mixing all the ingredients together. Stir occasionally and cook until almost all the juices have evaporated, about 6-8 minutes. Add the reserved tomato sauce and let come to a simmer. Add some reserved pasta water to the sauce if it’s necessary to thin it out. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Cover and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until pasta is cooked through ‘al dente.’ Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat, add ¼ cup of basil and stir it in. Add ¼ teaspoon of red pepper and about ¼ cup of parmesan cheese, stir to combine. Serve topped with shaved cheese and whole basil leaves. Serve with extra red pepper and cheese on the table. Enjoy!