Chickpea Sauce and Parmesan Cheese for Pasta


Chickpea Sauce and Parmesan Cheese for Pasta


I’m always looking for vegetarian counterparts to meat dishes when I’m preparing food for entertaining or feeding the grandkids at our weekly dinners. That way I can offer a vegetarian option when the crowd includes people with different food preferences. This one, which is easy, started as the counterpart to a chicken and pasta dish. The chicken version was relatively good, but not special. The vegetarian version did much better. 

The two dishes were designed to serve with orzo pasta, or with rice if avoiding pasta. Orzo looks like rice, but its name in Italian actually means barley, which cooked it also resembles. This is not an Italian dish, but some of my experience with Italian food influenced it. We had a side of crisp-tender broccoli and a salad with the dinner.


Here’s my chickpea dish. The recipe serves 4 to 6 persons, accompanying 1/2-3/4 pound of orzo pasta, which is cooked separately and lightly oiled after draining so it doesn’t stick together.


1/2 of a medium-small onion, minced

1 medium-large clove garlic, minced

4 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup water, plus more as needed

2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 sprigs fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

6 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping

1/2 to 3/4 pound orzo pasta, freshly cooked for serving


In a medium-sized pot, gently fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until onion is softened but not turning golden. Add the water and bring to a boil.


Stir in the drained, rinsed chickpeas, oregano, salt, paprika, black pepper and cayenne. Simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sour cream and bring back just to a boil. Add a little water if sauce is too thick. Taste and add a little salt if needed.


Serve now (or hold and reheat later in a microwave or on the stove top) over orzo pasta. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.


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