This originally appeared on The Nosher.
Winter months require a steady stream of comfort food for survival. But the start of the year also brings a time when people are more health-focused, perhaps even cutting their meat intake.
This hearty pasta dish doesn’t compromise on flavor while using chickpeas instead of ground beef, turkey or lamb. I suggest treating these versatile little beans as you would treat half a pound of ground meat by browning and seasoning well. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how delicious, hearty and meaty this spaghetti really turns out, and let’s face it — that’s exactly what you are craving, right?
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, washed and grated finely
1 celery stalk, very finely chopped
7 ounces cooked or canned garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed if canned)
14 ounce can plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 pound spaghetti
Heat half of the olive oil in a medium pot. Add the garlic and onions, along with the chili flakes and saute for 2-3 minutes until softened slightly.
Add the chickpeas and saute for 10 minutes. Allow the chickpeas to soften a little bit and start to mash them and break some of them apart with a spoon or fork, leaving some of them still intact.
Add another tablespoon of the olive oil and allow the chickpeas to brown lightly, stirring occasionally.
Add the carrot and celery and mix well. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
Then add the canned tomatoes and break them apart with a spoon. Add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and wine, allowing it all to evaporate and absorb into the vegetable mixture.
Add the bay leaves and thyme and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomato paste, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper and leave to cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the bolognese is thick and has darkened.
Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than directed on the packet, reserving 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water.
Drain the pasta and mix with the bolognese sauce along with the pasta water. Mix on low heat until the sauce has once again thickened, about a minute.
Top with the remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Serves 4.