Preserved Lemon + Chickpea Pasta with Parsley Pesto

pesto spaghetti with chickpeas and lemon

Serves 4

8 ounces pasta of choice (brown rice pasta used here)
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, separated
15 ounce can of chickpeas, thoroughly drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups coarsely chopped, fresh parsley
1/3 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
2 quarters preserved lemon, chopped (equal to 1/2 lemon; substitute zest + 1 tbsp lemon juice if no preserved lemons on hand)
1/3 cup reserved pasta water
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a drizzle of olive oil and then cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water and then drain. Set aside in pot to keep warm

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium skillet over a medium low flame. Add two teaspoons olive oil. Add one clove of the minced garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the chickpeas. Saute for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. Combine the remaining clove of garlic with the 1/3 cup of olive oil, the parsley and the almonds. Puree in a food processor until a coarse paste has formed.

Toss the warm pasta with the spinach leaves to wilt them. Add the pesto, chickpeas, preserved lemons and gently toss. If a little dry, add some of the reserved pasta water for creaminess.

Taste to see if the preserved lemons provide enough salt. Season to taste with sea salt if desired, along with freshly cracked black pepper. Best served immediately.

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*Photo courtesy of The Year in Food