Penne with chickpeas and chilli

Neil Perry's pantry pasta.
Neil Perry's pantry pasta. Photo: William Meppem
Difficulty
Easy
Dietary
Vegetarian

It's always good to have a few vegetarian pasta dishes up your sleeve. I love the texture of the chickpeas with the tomato. I use spicy Mexican salsa macha paste in just about any recipe where I’d use chilli. It brings a deep-roasted flavour and heat to the dish. I grate parmesan or pecorino over this as well as the breadcrumbs, but that’s up to you!

Ingredients

4 tbsp sourdough breadcrumbs

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

400g dried penne

grated parmesan or pecorino, to serve (optional)

Tomato sauce

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tsp salsa macha chilli paste*

300g can chickpeas

400g can chopped tomatoes

1 tsp sea salt

Method

1. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Drizzle the breadcrumbs with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, spread them on a tray and bake in the oven until golden brown.

2. Remove from the oven and place on a plate with paper towel to absorb the leftover oil. When cool, mix the parsley and toasted breadcrumbs together.

3. To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion and chilli paste for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add chickpeas, tomato and salt, and stir. Leave the sauce to simmer for 10–15 minutes, until it has thickened slightly.

4. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the penne and cook for about one minute less than the manufacturer's packet instructions. Drain the pasta and fold through the sauce.

5. Spoon the pasta and sauce into four bowls. Drizzle with the extra olive oil, give a good grind of fresh black pepper, and sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumb mixture to serve.

Tip: You can also use fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones, if you like. Simply chop, de-seed and simmer for an extra five minutes.

*You can order salsa macha chilli paste online from Fireworks Foods.