Active Time
20 MIN
Total Time
45 MIN
Serves : 4

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.

In 2018, Food & Wine named this recipe one of our 40 best: 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.

How to Make It

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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