This pasta and chickpeas with harissa is a smoky, spicy, and super filling dinner recipe. Topped with an herb garnish, it’ll be your new favorite weeknight meal.
I’m in love with this pasta and chickpeas recipe. It’s unbelievably easy to make, only requires a handful of ingredients, and it comes together in about 30-40 minutes. Best of all, it has so much flavor!
Up until now, I’ve never really thought to combine pasta and chickpeas. I’ve seen it before, but I always thought it would be too heavy. Well, I was wrong! In this past and chickpeas with harissa, I used chickpeas as a way to replace the meat in the tomato sauce and it just worked oh so fabulously. It was not too heavy at all and thanks to a light tomato sauce, this meal won’t leave you feeling overstuffed.
How to Make this Pasta and Chickpeas with Harissa
This recipe is so easy to make. First, boil the shells until just shy of al dente. Reserve a scoop of the pasta cooking water and drain the shells. While the pasta is cooking, sauté an onion until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Melt butter into the onion and once it’s frothy, add the spices – harissa powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and more crushed red pepper if you like. Allow the spices to bloom in the butter for about 45 seconds. Add tomato paste and cook until it is deepened in color, about 2 minutes.
Next, add the chickpeas and cook for about 4 minutes. I like to allow the chickpeas to cook until they crisp up just slightly. You’ll hear a few chickpeas pop and then you’ll know it’s ready.
From there, it’s just a matter of adding the a can of tomatoes – crushed or diced. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until thickened and reduced a bit. Add the pasta cooking water, the cooked pasta, and parsley and that’s it! You’re ready to serve it up. See how easy that was?
Now, for the pasta shape! You can use really any type of pasta you like here. I would recommend something that is a bit toothsome, like a tubular pasta. I would not use angel hair or thin spaghetti. Rigatoni, ziti, shells, or linguine would work well but I would definitely strongly recommend a tubular pasta. I absolutely loved the medium shells because the chickpeas naturally gathered into the shells and made eating the chickpeas so easy!
Looking for more vegetarian recipes? Check my archives!
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Pasta and Chickpeas with Harissa
- Wide pot
- Large pot
- 16 ounces medium shells ⅓ cup pasta cooking water reserved
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons butter optional
- 1 tablespoon harissa powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper optional
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper optional
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 15 ounce can chickpeas drained
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes or crushed
- ¾ cup parsley leaves minced, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil for the herb garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the Pasta:
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it about 1 minute under al dente. Reserve ⅓ cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
Start the Sauce:
- As you wait for the pasta water to boil, start the sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 7-9 minutes until it is beginning to soften and turn golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Melt the butter, if using, into the onion. Once melted and frothy, add the harissa powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and white pepper and cook for 45 seconds until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, lightly mashing into the onions and cook for about 1-2 minutes until it begins to deepen in color.
Cook the Chickpeas:
- Add the chickpeas to the pot and toss to coat. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until you a few of the chickpeas pop slightly.
Simmer the Sauce:
- Add the tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. If desired, add a quarter cup of water or stock to thin out the sauce, but it's not necessary. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add water as necessary if the sauce reduces too much, but it should have a thick, jammy consistency. Taste and season again to preferences.
Finish the Sauce:
- Add the reserved pasta cooking water, the cooked pasta and half the minced parsley to the pot and toss to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes more over low heat. Turn off the heat.
Prepare the Herb Garnish:
- In a small bowl, combine the remaining minced parsley with 1 tablespoons olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Divide the cooked pasta and chickpeas between plates and spoon the herb garnish on top. Sprinkle each plate with a touch more harissa powder, if you like. Enjoy!