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This saffron-packed chickpea and almond pasta will transport you to Spain

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This saffron-packed chickpea and almond pasta will transport you to Spain
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They say that desperation is what makes invention possible. Something like that. 

In my case, a months-long drought of Spanish chorizo at the grocery store took me down a path of recipe tinkering that resulted in a vegan pasta dish that — dare I say it — makes me feel downright smug. 

It all started about a decade ago, when it was my chance to stumble upon this. Spaghetti with chorizo and almonds is a great 2007 recipeEpicurious. Spanish chorizo’s beguiling subtlety shines when paired with such like-minded co-stars as garlic, dry white wine and floral saffron — then tossed with pasta and the welcomed heft of creamy chickpeas and toasted almonds. 

The resulting dish is gorgeous and balanced — tinted orange from the rendered chorizo and saffron-tinged stock. It quickly became part of my regular cooking rotation. I loved it until I couldn’t find Spanish Chorizo at my local grocery. 

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Mexican chorizo proved too spicy to work as a substitute. I also couldn’t find a good dry-cured alternative. Instead, I leaned on the dish’s other deliciously subtle components, many of which are vegan. I subbed in vegetable stock for chicken broth — mainly because it’s my preferred boxed stock where flavor is concerned. I used lemon juice to replace the wine, as I always have enough. I grew to love its lemon tang and how it brightens vintagey saffron. 

The dish is elegantly understated, and the texture is a delight. (See? (See? I don’t know exactly when the vegan version was officially replaced in my monthly rotation. I can tell that my self-righteousness transcends the passage of time. 

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Recipe: Chickpea and saffron ravioli 

Ingredients

Salt, as required

1 box spaghetti 

Olive oil, if needed

6 fat garlic cloves, thinly chopped

1 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed.

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

Red pepper flakes can be crushed

½ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

Juice of one juicy lemon (or 1 ½ if your lemon is stingy)

⅓ cup low-sodium vegetable stock

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

Handful of fresh chive leaves, minced (optional).

 

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, heat a skillet or heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high. Add a generous ¼ cup of olive oil to the skillet. Once it shimmers add the garlic, chickpeas and parsley.
  • Sauté until the chickpeas soften a little and the garlic just turns golden. 
  • Add the lemon juice to the skillet. Cover the skillet and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, remove the lid, and simmer the liquid until it reduces by half. At some point during the simmering stage, taste it and adjust salt and lemon juice as necessary. 
  • Cook your pasta  until it is al dente, then add it promptly to the skillet along with the toasted almonds and a glug of olive oil; toss until everything is yellow-tinged and glossy.
  • Plate in shallow, warmed bowls. Garnish with the rest of your herbs and almonds as well as a shiny drizzle of olive oils. 
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