Know what else is beguiling? A wee round of fresh mozzarella, cradled similarly.
Just about anything that ends up in a tiny pasta cup has me at hello. (Something else that has me at hello, apparently: references from movies that were released in 1996.)
Orecchiette with kale, mozzarella, and chickpeas just might be perfect, at least for me, at least for this moment. It fires on all available cylinders: it tastes amazing, it includes cheese, it is healthy (kale!), it involves my very favorite foodstuff, it has ingredients that spoon each other like I spoon our 10-month-old puppy late at night when I need to feel cozy.
I love this dish, Husband loves this dish, even my two-year-old cannot refrain from snacking upon the crunchy chickpea bits. Regardless of how you feel about spooning -- culinary, canine, or otherwise -- I urge you to make this dish as soon as humanly possible. You will be smitten, too...putty in its bewitching pasta and legume embrace.
ORECCHIETTE WITH KALE, MOZZARELLA, AND CHICKPEAS
Adapted from "Food and Wine"
You could absolutely use Swiss chard in place of the kale, if you wish, or any dark leafy green, really.
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. coriander
Freshly-cracked black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 c. canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 lb. orecchiette
1/4 c. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. kale, stemmed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (or you can use the teeny tiny fresh mozzarella balls, which I can find from time to time in my grocery store)
8 large basil leaves, torn
In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste.
In a large skillet, heat 1/4-inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle the chickpeas with the cumin mixture. Discard the oil and wipe out the skillet. Try not to eat all the chickpeas while you prepare the rest of the dish.
In a large pot of salted water, cook the orecchiette according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 c. of the cooking water.
While the orecchiette cooks, add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the kale and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water to the kale mixture in the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until incorporated. Add the tomatoes and cook until they're just warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add the mozzarella and basil and toss to combine.
Spoon the pasta into bowls, sprinkle with the crispy chickpeas, and serve.
Serves 2 hungry people; 4 rational, moderate people, though I wouldn't know anything about that.
Previously, on A Stove With A House Around It:
One year ago: tomato-water spaghetti
Two years ago: guest-blogging over at Why CLE?
Three years ago: quinoa with caramelized onions
Four years ago: fregula Sarda with roasted zucchini, ricotta salata, and olives
Five years ago: pasta e ceci alla Romana