Kale Stem Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas or Beans
This is the first of a series of recipes that work as a meal plan with dried chickpeas or beans. We’re working with our friends over at the environmental health nonprofit Because Health to help encourage people to use dried beans to avoid chemicals in the linings of canned foods. Dried beans, lentils, and chickpeas are also super inexpensive and versatile - food that can be made into multiple meals are great when it comes to minimizing food waste! With just chickpeas, greens, cheese and pantry items, you can have two or more great meals (plus an easy snack that could totally be dinner) without wasting any food. If you don’t cook dried chickpeas or beans often, check out this recipe for tips and then see below for a simple vegetarian pasta dish.
If you’re going to cook through the three recipes, the following is a helpful grocery list. We’ve designed the recipes to roughly feed four, so adjust accordingly depending on who you’re feeding.
1 box pasta of your choice (this would also be good with a hearty grain like wheatberries or farro)
2 cups dried chickpeas (you can always freeze extras or make hummus)
1 head garlic
smallish block of Parmesan or other hard cheese, or a pint container of grated cheese
1 bunch kale and 1 bunch arugula, or other greens of your choice
A tin of fish such as anchovies or tuna
I assume you have extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt and pepper at home - buy if you don’t!
The Rough Recipe
This vegetarian dish can be made vegan by leaving the cheese out of the pasta and pesto. Use gluten-free noodles or leave out the nuts to accommodate for those dietary restrictions. If you already have the chickpeas cooked, the dish can be done in less than half an hour, especially if you multitask and make the pesto while the pasta is cooking.
Here's what you'll need:
For the pesto
A food processor or blender
3 cups kale and arugula with stems, or other leafy greens or herbs from chard to basil (use all stems here, set aside the leaves for tomorrow’s salad
1 smashed garlic clove
½ cup grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
¼ cup nuts of your choice, like walnuts or pine nuts (optional - I toss them in if I have them in the kitchen)
About ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the pasta
A large pot
12 ounces of dried pasta of your choice
A few leaves of whatever salad greens you're using, for flavor and texture
Grated Parmesan or another hard cheese, for garnish
To make the pesto, wash and clean your greens, roughly chop them, and set aside some leaves for tomorrow's salad. Ideally, put the greens in the fridge in a loose bag with a paper towel or clean cloth inside to soak up any extra moisture. You'll want about 3 cups of leaves and stems for the pesto - I used all the stems from a bunch of kale and they blended up easily.
Add the greens to your food processor or blender along with the garlic, cheese, and nuts. Pour in about half the olive oil and pulse to combine everything into a paste. Slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil until the pesto reaches a loose saucy consistency. Add a generous pinch of salt and then season to taste.
To make the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl, then stir in your cooked chickpeas. Toss with ample pesto and season to taste. If you’d like to add some leafy greens and grated cheese or anything else you like on your pasta, go for it.