I spent the past couple of weeks researching and writing a blog post about cheese, so I was in the mood to cook with it even more than usual. I put together this pasta last week and it was so tasty and easy, I wanted to share it with you here.
The cooking time is 45 minutes because the chickpeas have to roast, but you’re not hands-on in the kitchen for that long. If you make this for dinner you should have plenty of time to toss a quick salad or relax with a glass of wine. (If this isn’t your reality, you can just fantasize along with me while we tackle the third kitchen clean-up of the day.)
If you saw the original picture on Instagram you might notice this is a bit different. In that bowl, the spinach was underneath the pasta, because one of our kids doesn’t like it mixed in.
Plus after crunching the nutrition numbers, I decided to add a can of tuna to boost the protein. You could add an extra can of chickpeas or some cooked chicken instead, but it turns out the tuna played nicely with the sun-dried tomatoes. Highly recommend.
This is the thing I love about pasta… it’s such a great vehicle for cardioprotective foods: vegetables, fish, even pulses, as in this recipe! The trick is to shift the balance of the dish towards those foods, and keep the pasta portion size in the neighbourhood of a cup or so (depending on your size and hunger).
I think this would also be good with twice the spinach, if you’re a real spinach lover. Or you could add more tomatoes, although watch the sodium. About that…
Sodium in sun-dried tomatoes
If you’re making this with heart health in mind, you might want to take a look at the sodium when you buy sun-dried tomatoes, because there is a huge difference from brand to brand.
I made a quick chart to see how much sodium the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes would add to the entire recipe, depending on the brand. (Keep in mind it makes six bowls.)
|Brand (where found, online unless noted)||serving size (g)||sodium / serving (mg)||sodium / 1 cup (mg)|
|Presidents Choice (Superstore)||15||390||2860 (!)|
|California (Walmart – USA, Costco Canada in store)||10||60||660|
|Bella Sun Luci (Walmart – Canada, Save On Foods)||14||35||275|
|Mezetta (Walmart – USA)||15||24||176|
|Bella Sun Luci (Walmart – USA)||19||10||58|
You can see there is quite a variation! (I almost wonder if that Presidents Choice product is a mistake.)
Anyhow, for each bowl, the sun-dried tomatoes can add from 10mg to 477mg, depending on the brand! (My rule of thumb is to aim for about 500mg per meal or less, but you need to leave room for that fabulous feta.)
Notes about other ingredients
No need to shy away from the oil in the chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s mostly healthy fat! I say to drain it here, because I’m looking for a good amount of tomato, but you don’t have to drain it really well. I keep that oil, by the way. It’s delicious for sauteing spinach or other veggies.
One more thing about the oil in the sun-dried tomatoes… if it’s olive oil, it may get cloudy and solidify in the fridge. That happens with the big California brand jars they sell at Costco. Don’t worry about that! It hasn’t gone bad. Olive oil starts to solidify at fridge temperature. Take it out for a few minutes and it will clear right up.
The tuna I used for the nutrition analysis was packed in water, but this would be good with tuna packed in oil too. You’re good either way.
Should you use whole-wheat pasta? You can if you like, but I think it’s awful myself. Don’t torture yourself in the name of health. You can get plenty of fibre from other whole grains, pulses, fruit, and vegetables, so I let this one go. But if you like it, of course, use it.
Anyhow, enough said. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
Crunchy chickpea and sun-dried tomato pasta
- 1 can chickpeas (no salt added)
- 4 cloves garlic
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 pound scoobi doo pasta or rotini or fusili
- 5 oz pre-washed spinach
- 1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes drained
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1 can light tuna in water
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Rinse the chickpeas in a strainer. Give them a couple of minutes to drain well.
- Meanwhile, peel the garlic and add them (whole) to a baking sheet along with the oil.
- Add the chickpeas and mix to coat well.
- Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Remove when they're golden brown.
- Discard the garlic cloves.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot according to package instructions, then drain and return to the pot.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes, tuna, and spinach, stirring to combine. Put a lid on the pot and keep warm on the lowest setting.
- When the chickpeas are brown and crispy, add them to the pasta. The spinach should be wilted by now. Stir once more to combine. Top with feta cheese and enjoy.
Are you on the hunt for easy, tasty heart-healthy recipes? Jump over to the free Sweet Spot Heart-Healthy Cooking Club on Facebook and browse through the recipe categories.