Chickpeas and Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

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Chef Missy Robbins of Brooklyn’s Lilia restaurant swaps chickpeas for pasta in her riff on spicy pomodoro. She finishes the dish with a shower of fresh herbs and salty pecorino cheese. It comes as little surprise that our pick for 2017 is a quick, simple, and eminently usable vegetable-based dish. The recipe is from Missy Robbins of Brooklyn’s award-winning Lilia restaurant, who turns classic pasta al pomodoro on its head. In her spicy, healthy, and addictive version, Robbins (who was named a Best New Chef in 2010 for her cooking at A Voce) swaps out pasta in favor of nourishing chickpeas and tangles of kale. She says, “I created this dish when I was watching my weight, and I needed the satisfaction and flavor of a good red-sauce pasta— without using pasta. It’s an amazing one-pan dish that’s packed with richness but doesn’t take a long time to make.” For additional flavor, she tops the bowl with fresh herbs and salty pecorino Romano.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • One 8-ounce bunch of Tuscan kale, stemmed and chopped
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Torn basil and marjoram leaves, for garnish
  • Finely grated Pecorino Romano, for serving

Directions

  • Step 1
    In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes.
  • Step 2
    Stir the kale into the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Spoon into bowls and garnish with torn basil and marjoram leaves. Top with finely grated pecorino and serve hot.

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