Photo by Joe Lingeman
This is the kind of dinner you make when you get home late and are greeted by a nearly empty fridge. In less time than it takes to call for takeout, you can grab a few ingredients from the pantry and assemble this modest, one-pot meal that’s immensely satisfying.
Orzo and a couple of cans of chickpeas are cooked together in a simple garlic and onion-infused tomato sauce until it results in a creamy dinner that’s almost reminiscent of risotto yet is firmly its own. The only thing left to do is top bowls with chopped basil and plenty of grated Parmesan and dig in.
Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kath Nash.
A One-Pot Dinner Inspired by a Simple Roman Pasta
This dish is inspired by an unpretentious Italian dish that hails from Rome called pasta e ceci, or pasta with chickpeas. It doesn’t need much explanation because it’s really as simple as that — pasta and chickpeas bathed in a light tomato sauce. While many pasta shapes are used to make this dish, we opted for orzo simply because it’s easy to love and can be spooned up easily with the chickpeas. Plus, doesn’t everyone have a bag in the pantry somewhere?
Chickpeas add substance to this dish — both nutritionally, as they’re full of protein and fiber, and flavor-wise, since they’re earthy and nutty. Everything comes together in one pot and is equally parts uncluttered and comforting.
One-Pot Tomato Chickpeas and Orzo
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound dried orzo pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or tomato purée
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups total)
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil leaves
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the orzo and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the broth, tomatoes, and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently so that the orzo doesn’t stick, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions. (If the pasta isn’t completely cooked at this point, add another splash or two of broth or water to the pot and continue to simmer until it has.) Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with the chopped basil and additional grated cheese, if desired.
Add extra vegetables: If you want to add extra vegetables to punch up this one-pot meal, stir in a 12-ounce bag of spinach or corn kernels at the end of cooking. Heat just until warmed through.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Sheela Prakash received her master's degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy and is also a Registered Dietitian. She is the author of “Mediterranean Every Day.”