This chickpea and saffron almond pasta will transport you to Spain

They say despair is the mother of invention, right? Something like that.

In my case, a months-long drought of Spanish chorizo ​​at the grocery store set me on a path to DIY recipes that resulted in a vegan pasta dish that – dare I say it – makes me feel downright smug.

It all started at least a decade ago when I came across this great 2007 recipe for spaghetti with chorizo ​​and almonds from Epicurious. The alluring subtlety of Spanish chorizo ​​shines when paired with like-minded co-stars like garlic, dry white wine and floral saffron – then tossed with pasta and the welcome weight of chickpeas cream and toasted almonds.

The resulting dish is beautiful and balanced – tinged orange from the rendered chorizo ​​and broth tinged with saffron. It soon joined my regular kitchen rotation, where it stayed deliciously until I could never find Spanish chorizo ​​at my local grocery store.

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Mexican chorizo ​​proved too heavily seasoned to work as a replacement; I also couldn’t find a satisfying dry-cured pork substitute. So I instead leaned into the other subtle and enticing components of the dish, most of which are vegan. I replaced the vegetable broth with chicken broth – mainly because it’s my favorite canned broth as far as flavor goes. I replaced the lemon juice with wine because I always have plenty on hand. But over time, I’ve come to appreciate its strong citrus flavor, especially for the way it brightens up that vintage saffron.

The finished dish is elegantly understated and a textural delight. (See? I’m going with smugness.) I’m not sure exactly when the vegan version officially replaced the original in my monthly rotation. However, I can tell you that my own righteousness transcends time.

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Recipe: Pasta with saffron and chickpeas

Ingredients

Salt, as needed

1 box of spaghetti

Olive oil, as needed

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 can (14 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus a handful more for garnish

Pinch of red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

The juice of a very juicy lemon (or 1 ½ if your lemon is stingy)

⅓ cup low-sodium vegetable broth

½ cup slivered or sliced ​​almonds, dry toasted in a skillet (save a small handful for garnish, please)

A handful of fresh chive sprigs, chopped (optional)

directions

  1. While you bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil for your pasta, heat a heavy saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add a generous ¼ cup of olive oil to the skillet. When shimmering, add the garlic, chickpeas, parsley, red pepper flakes, saffron and a big pinch of salt.
  2. Sauté until the chickpeas soften a bit and the garlic turns just golden.
  3. Add the lemon juice and vegetable broth, cover the pan and bring to a boil. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half. Taste it at some point during the simmering phase, adjusting as needed with lemon juice and salt.
  4. Cook your pasta until al dente, then quickly add it to the pan with the toasted almonds and a drizzle of olive oil; stir until everything is tinged with yellow and shiny.
  5. Plate in warmed shallow bowls, topped with the rest of the herbs and almonds and another bright drizzle of olive oil.

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