I still haven’t quite snapped out of summer vacation mode yet. Cooking seems to require more effort than usual. Actually, making a cup of tea requires quite some more effort, too. It’s times like these that I’m so glad I can throw some pasta, sauce, and cheese in a pan, and call it dinner. Pasta solves all problems, usually.
For this pasta dish, I tossed in whatever protein I could find around the house, which happened to be a can of chickpeas. The star of the show, however, is the shredded mozzarella.
Have you ever tried smoked mozzarella? The texture is a lot like regular mozzarella, but the outside is golden and slightly tough from the smoking process. The flavors are quite intense when you eat smoked mozzarella on its own. I was initially worried that the smokiness of the cheese would be too much for this pasta, but I couldn’t be more wrong. The cheese pairs very well with the pasta. Every person who’s tried this dish loves it, too!
- Baking the pasta: To prepare the dish for the photos, I sprinkled all the cheese on top of the pasta and baked it at 350ºF (175ºC) for 10 minutes. I helped to melt and brown the cheese a little. This baking step is optional—it tastes great even if you decide to stir the shredded cheese into the pasta. If you want the cheese to be more golden brown, leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes or so.
- Substitutions: Feel free to add whatever vegetables you have on hand. For example, you can swap baby spinach for kale, but make sure that you add the spinach last. Also, if you can’t find smoked mozzarella, regular mozzarella will work just fine.
If you make this recipe, let me know! Take a photo of your creation and tag me on Instagram so that I can give you a fist bump!
Chickpea Pasta with Smoked Mozzarella
- 8 ounces (225g) rotini pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups (80g) chopped kale, about 4 large handfuls
- 1 medium yellow pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 15-ounce (425g) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, optional
- salt and pepper
- 1 2/3 cups (140g) shredded smoked mozzarella
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add kale and peppers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add chickpeas and pasta sauce and cook until they’re warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add dried oregano (if using) and salt and pepper to taste. Mix in pasta and shredded cheese until the cheese melts. If you want to bake the pasta like I did, mix in pasta and top everything with shredded cheese. Bake the pasta for 10 to 15 minutes at 350ºF (175ºC), until the cheese starts to brown.
- Serve pasta immediately. Season with more salt and pepper if you like.