Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette pasta on a round white dish next to a fork on a white and grey towel with a bowl of breadcrumbs in the background next to spinach leaves and a slice of lemon (with logo overlay)

Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette

Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette is a vegan pasta dinner that will keep you full for hours with layers of ingredients and a blast of flavors.

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We try to have meatless and/or vegan meals once per week, so when I find one that looks promising, I bookmark it or tear the page from a magazine. Well, Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette fits the category of vegan, but what in the world is “orecchiette?”

Orecchiette directly translates to “little ears” in Italian, which has much to do with their shape. They’re a round, concave pasta that originated in Puglia in southern Italy. They’re thinner in the middle than they are on the edges, which gives them a unique texture. These little noodles have been around for hundreds of years and have yet to lose popularity.

https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/what-is-orecchiette

Even though it says orecchiette is a popular type of pasta, I had never heard of it before. I had to do a quick search to see what it looked like so I would know what to look for in the store. I found a bag of orecchiette with the rest of the pasta in my grocery store, it was just up on a top shelf.

As usual, I changed many things about this recipe as I made it. Some were changes out of necessity because I didn’t have or couldn’t find an ingredient. Some of the changes were personal preference.

I know I often mention how much I change a recipe as I make it, but this is a good visual. You can see how much I have marked through the recipe that I tore from the magazine (I don’t remember which one now) and changed either the ingredients, or the amounts, or the method. I removed some ingredients and added others.

Also, as I make these recipes, I find that they are ambitious on how quickly a recipe can be completed. It always takes me a bit longer than listed to cook something.

The overall dish came out much different than I thought it would, but we enjoyed it. There were some very bold flavors in this, including the black olives. Then again, I am not a big fan of black olives, so that may be why the taste stood out to me.

This pasta is very filling, so make sure to serve it in small bowls. You can always go back for more. But we didn’t eat a lot of this before we were feeling full. It did reheat pretty well the next day. You’ll just want to store the panko separate so it doesn’t get soggy.

Step by Step

In a medium pot, boil the pasta in water and salt for about 7-8 minutes, just until the pasta starts to get tender. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the pasta has cooked, make sure to reserve one cup of the water before draining the pasta.

Medium saucepan boiling the orecchiette pasta

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high. Chop the onion and add it to the oil, cooking for about 5 minutes, until it’s softened.

Large stockpot with oil cooking diced onions

Stir the olives, garlic, and red pepper flakes into the onion and let it sizzle for one minute.

Large stockpot with oil cooking diced onion, minced garlic, and sliced black olives

Add the tomatoes into the stockpot and let it simmer for about 7-8 minutes so the flavors blend together. Stir frequently.

Large stockpot cooking tomatoes and black olives

Carefully scoop one cup of the water from the boiling pasta and pour it into the stockpot. Then add the cooked pasta and chickpeas.

Large stockpot with orecchiette pasta noodles, olives, tomatoes, and chickpeas

Add the spinach. Cook until the pasta is tender and the spinach has wilted about 5 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice and stir it in.

Large stockpot with pasta noodles, chickpeas, and spinach leaves over a gas stovetop

Meanwhile, dry out the pot that the pasta was cooked in (to create fewer dishes to wash later) and add one tbsp of olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the panko and lemon zest. Toast the panko, stirring often so it doesn’t burn, for 3-4 minutes, until it is golden brown.

Toasted breadcrumbs in a small skillet

Spoon the pasta into serving bowls and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and top with toasted panko.

Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette on a white plate on top of a white and green towel with a fork on it next to a small white bowl of toasted breadcrumbs and spinach and lemon slices (vertial)

Recipe

Originally Published On: March 14, 2019

Last Updated On: March 22, 2020

Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette on a white plate on top of a white and green towel with a fork on it next to a small white bowl of toasted breadcrumbs and spinach and lemon slices

Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette

Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette is a vegan pasta dinner that will keep you full for hours with layers of ingredients and a blast of flavors.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chickpeas, pasta, spinach, vegan
Servings: 8 servings
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

Pasta
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup black olives (pitted, chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 14.5 oz chickpeas (undrained)
  • 5 oz spinach
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Panko Topping
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 tsp lemon zest

Instructions

  • In a medium pot, boil the pasta in water and salt for about 7-8 minutes, just until the pasta starts to get tender, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot
  • Once pasta has cooked, make sure to reserve one cup of the water before draining the pasta
  • Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high
  • Chop the onion and add it to the oil, cooking for about 5 minutes, until it’s softened
  • Stir the olives, garlic, and red pepper flakes into the onion and let it sizzle for one minute
  • Add the tomatoes into the stockpot and let it simmer for about 7-8 minutes so the flavors blend together, stirring frequently
  • Carefully scoop one cup of the water from the boiling pasta and pour it into the stockpot
  • Add the cooked pasta, chickpeas, and spinach
  • Cook until the pasta is tender and the spinach has wilted, about 5 minutes
  • Pour in the lemon juice and stir it in
  • Meanwhile, dry out the pot that the pasta was cooked in (to create less dishes to wash later) and add one tbsp of olive oil, heating over medium heat
  • Add the panko and lemon zest
  • Toast the panko, stirring often so it doesn’t burn, for 3-4 minutes, until it is golden brown
  • Spoon the pasta into serving bowls and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and top with toasted panko
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Nutrition Facts
Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette
Amount Per Serving
Calories 434 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 802mg33%
Potassium 518mg15%
Carbohydrates 67g22%
Fiber 7g28%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 1810IU36%
Vitamin C 13.3mg16%
Calcium 98mg10%
Iron 3.7mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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26 thoughts on “Chickpea and Spinach Orecchiette”

  1. This looks amazing! I love to have this vegan option up my sleeve for when I have my vegan friends over! I am trying to do a non meat day a week this year so i will be putting this to the test tomorrow!

  2. You post the most delicious meals. I totally love Chickpea and Spinach. I know my kids and husband would love this.

  3. This looks like it would be absolutely delicious. I love anything that has to do with spinach so this is a win for me!

  4. This looks like the best recipe you’ve shared yet! I love chick peas and spinach and pasta but have never made them together. I’m excited to try this recipe!

  5. I have recently begun transitioning my diet to include vegan recipes for lunch. This looks like a great recipe to incorporate throughout my meal planning. Thanks!

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