Here’s a pasta dish so simple yet so elegant and so nutritious, you’ll want to make it every night. ‘
The beauty of this dish is that it requires just a handful of ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. If not, it’s surely worth a run to the grocery store to pick them up.
The cauliflower here — it’s one of my favorite vegetables and this turned out to be one of my favorite ways to eat it– can be substituted easily with broccoli. Try not to overcook the cauliflower or the broccoli because it wouldn’t taste so good without a bit of a snap and a crunch.
One tip on the pasta: I always specify cooking it al dente and what that means is you don’t let it turn mushy on you. Instead, it should have a slight bite. Besides the fact that mushy pasta doesn’t taste so great, there’s a good nutritional reason for not overcooking pasta. Most of you are likely aware of the term glycemic index, which is a measure of the amount of sugar released into your blood when you eat a particular food. As is obvious from that description, a healthy diet should include foods lower on the glycemic scale because, honestly, you didn’t think all that sugar in your blood was actually a sweet thing, did you?
Pasta tends to be a fairly low G.I. food because of the way it is made— the starch granules in the wheat create a sponge-like network of protein molecules that breaks down slowly when you digest it. But when you overcook pasta, this structure dissolves, exposing the starch molecules and sending more glucose coursing through your arteries.
If that explanation didn’t help, just remember this:
Overcooked pasta = Bad
Al dente pasta = Sophia Loren.
And now the recipe. Enjoy, all!
- 2 cups of any uncooked small pasta like orechiette, farfalle or ziti. I used the piccolini version of penne, which are these cute, tiny versions of regular pasta shapes.
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 2 tsp red pepper flakes (use less if you must, but this is a very lightly flavored dish so you won't really find this hot)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed until just tender. I did this by putting it into the microwave with a couple of tablespoons of water for 10 minutes. Make sure that the pasta is as close to done as you'd like to eat it before taking it out because it won't cook too long on the stove.
- 12 cloves garlic, minced (yes, again, you need them)
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup parsley or coriander leaves (I like the more assertive flavor of coriander, but use parsley if you prefer a milder flavor)
- Set the pasta to cook according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet.
- Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two over medium heat until it just starts to change color.
- Add the red pepper flakes, mix in, and add the cauliflower and chickpeas.
- Mix everything together and now add the cooked pasta and parsley/coriander.
- Stir everything well and check for salt. I always drizzle a tiny amount of extra-virgin olive oil on my plate for a delicious flavor finish.
- Serve hot.
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