Pasta really does make such a simple mid-week dinner. It’s hearty and carby and the leftovers travel well – what more do you need? True to it’s name, Ottolenghi Simple is filled with interesting and achievable mid-week pasta recipes. One such recipe, is the gigli with chickpeas and za’atar. People are often skeptical about non-Italian flavours with pasta but why limit yourselves. I’ll have anything on toast, so the same applies for pasta.
This simple Ottolenghi recipe lept out from the pages, nestling in my brain, waiting to be cooked one chilly evening. This is often the case with store-cupboard recipes. I have a canny knack for remembering recipes that can be cooked without having to leave the house. I mistakenly recalled this recipe as vegan, but as I started to cook I realised it had anchovies in. I could have left them out, but I always have them in cupboard so despite the veganish thing, I decided to add them.
A simple cook. The onions, garlic, anchovies and other aromatics are fried for a few minutes. The chickpeas are added and cooked for 8 minutes till golden. Pasta can be cooked at this stage. Stock is added and the whole thing is simmered for a further 6 minutes. You can make it ahead, stopping at this 20 minute step. If you’re eating immediately then add the spinach and parsley, allowing the spinach to wilt.
If it all sounds a bit simple, that’s because it is. 5 minutes of preparation that mostly consists of opening jars and tins. 20 minutes of cooking. The result, a tasty, earthy sauce stirred through the pasta and topped with the nutty, savoury za’atar.
I opted for some festive, multicoloured orecchiette from Lidl’s Italian food week. I thought it would brighten the beige of chickpeas and za’atar but the colours soon dulled as the pasta cooked. I also added double the quantity of spinach, which was still only 100g between 4. Personally, I think the recipe could take even more.
I served the pasta alongside Nigella’s Chilli Cheese Garlic Bread which was maybe a bit too strong alongside the gigli with chickpeas and za’atar. I’d probably opt for something plainer than the cheesy, garlic heaven; maybe a little bit of focaccia? The recipe is very tasty, but not photogenic. An easy, make-ahead dish and future packed lunch to look forward too.
The recipe is in Ottolenghi Simple which I consider a must-buy for carnivores and vegans alike. However, it is also available on the You Magazine website.
This recipe is an easy one to veganise – just swap the anchovy fillets with a table spoon of dark soy sauce and use vegetable instead of chicken stock.