Pantry Pasta with Chickpeas

Four things I ALWAYS have in my pantry: canned chickpeas, tomato paste, garlic, and pasta. They are the base ingredient for many of the recipes I make, and in this dish, they all happily come together in just 15 minutes.

The Coronavirus pandemic has probably altered the way you shop for food and subsequently affected what you have in your pantry right now. For those of you new to cooking, however, I imagine you might be wondering what you should buy. Food writer Kim O’Donnel wrote a lovely, timeless article this week about what she always has on-hand in her pantry. It looks pretty much exactly like the stuff I have in my pantry.

Pasta with Chickpeas

Adapted from food blogger Smitten Kitchen’s Pasta e Ceci recipe.

Makes two servings.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste (if you don’t like spicy food, omit)
  • 1 15 oz (400 gr) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 160 grams uncooked small pasta
  • Fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, roughly chopped


  1. Bring salty water to a boil and cook the pasta. Your pasta water should be salty like the sea and there is only one way to find out if it is, taste it!
  2. Pour the pasta into the water and set a timer to 2 minutes before the total time that the package says the pasta needs to cook. You will finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.
  3. While the pasta cooks, in a deep pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and then add the smashed cloves of garlic. Cook until they become fragrant. Try not to burn them! For me, this means actually removing the pan from the stove and letting the garlic bubble in the hot oil for a few seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and pepper flakes (if using) and cook them with the garlic for 30 seconds or so, breaking up the chunks of tomato paste. Remove from heat and set aside until pasta is ready.
  4. Just before your pasta timer rings, take 1 cup of pasta water from the boiling pot then strain the pasta.
  5. Place the sauce back on the stove and add the chickpeas, pasta, herbs and 1 cup of pasta water. Simmer, stir and cook for two minutes until the pasta is fully cooked and a lot of the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning and ladle into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with bread to soak up all the yummy sauce.


  • I know 160 grams seems like an arbitrary amount for the pasta, but it’s the amount we like to use to abundantly serve two people, so 80 grams each.
  • How to weigh the pasta? I don’t have many kitchen gadgets, but I do have a small scale to weigh ingredients. I recommend getting one.
  • I don’t recommend making a lot of this to store as leftovers. Pasta will continue to absorb liquid as it sits, getting mushier with time and losing its ideal texture. This recipe is so quick, I don’t mind repeating the same steps the next day.
  • I’ve added a carrot (like in the photo), bell pepper, or onion to the sauce before. If you have a solitary vegetable lying around the kitchen, it too can happily be thrown in.
  • I always use rosemary in this recipe, but I imagine that another herb like fresh oregano or sage would be great too. Dried herbs can be used, their flavor won’t be as strong as fresh herbs though.

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