Orecchiette with broccoli & chickpeas

This a quick pasta dish that's easy to make during the week. Instead of using all broccoli, you can use a combination of any green veggies you have in the fridge: zucchini, cauliflower, kale, silverbeet or broccoli rabe (also called rapini) all work well.

Do try to find organic canned chickpeas; they're readily available in most supermarkets and taste so much better.

As an added bonus, you don't need to drain organic chickpeas so you can add the tasty juices to the dish. It's worth keeping a couple of cans in the pantry to add to add their nutty flavour and extra protein and fibre to all types of soups, stews and pasta dishes. 

Recipe from by award-winning cook and food writer Andrea Ball.

Ingredients:

700 g broccoli (about 2 small heads), or chosen combination of green veggies
400 g dried orecchiette pasta, or your favourite short pasta shape  
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
4 anchovy fillets
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 x 400 g can organic chickpeas, undrained
Olive oil, freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese and lemon wedges to serve

Directions:

  1. Wash the broccoli. Trim and peel any large, tough stalks. Slice stalks thinly and break the rest of the broccoli into small florets. (Do the same if you are using cauliflower, and simply slice zucchini or shred kale and silverbeet.)
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook following packet directions until just al dente. Reserve a generous cup of the pasta cooking water.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, gently heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, chilli and anchovies and heat very gently while mashing the anchovy fillets with the back of a spoon. Take care not to let the garlic colour.
  4. Add the prepared broccoli, grated lemon rind, sea salt to taste and a good splash of water. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli is beginning to soften. Add the chickpeas and their juices and some of the pasta cooking water. Simmer until the broccoli is just tender.
  5. Toss the drained pasta with the broccoli–chickpea mixture, adding more of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce — you want it to be a little brothy.
  6. Taste for seasoning and serve in wide bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil and the pecorino or Parmesan. Add a wedge of lemon on the side for each person to squeeze over.  

Tips:

  • This pasta dish is hearty, warming and healthy — and you can make the whole dish in the time it takes the pasta to cook.

  • Adding a squeeze of lemon at the table lifts all the flavours and helps your body to absorb the iron in the greens.

  • You can easily halve this recipe to serve 2, still use the whole can of chickpeas though so you don't find the other half of the can at the back of the fridge weeks later!