Don’t you love recipes that can be thrown together in minutes, yet are healthful and over-the-top delicious?
This orecchiette easily fulfills all the above conditions. The tender yet robust chickpeas happily provide protein even as the copious amounts of spinach leaves lighten the load. The sweet pimentón coats everything with its seductive smokiness, while the shavings of nutty manchego cheese and the drizzle of herbaceous olive oil made with the delicate Arbequina Spanish olives bestow the perfect last touch.
Hearty, smoky, and savory, this pasta dish delivers heaps of flavor and leaves you feeling utterly satisfied.
- 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 12 ounces orecchiette
- 1/3 cup Arbequina extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 8 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoon pimentón dulce (Spanish smoked sweet paprika)
- One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Aged manchego, shaved with a vegetable peeler, to taste, for garnish
In a large pot, bring 6 quarts water to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, add the salt and the pasta. Cook pasta until tender but still al dente. Drain well.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds until the garlic begins to sizzle, stirring constantly and making sure it doesn’t brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
Just before the pasta is ready, reheat the garlic-oil mixture over high heat. As soon as the garlic sizzles, add the cayenne, pimentón, chickpeas, and spinach. Toss until the spinach starts to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Add the pasta and 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss quickly and remove from heat.
Spoon the pasta into bowls. Garnish with manchego shavings, drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve immediately.