For the past 5 plus years Alex and I have been dedicated to sharing with you where our passion for people, life, and art intersect: simple meatless meals, healthy, whole food ideas, and inspiration for living well. We’re pretty transparent about the fact that it hasn’t always been this way. When Alex confessed on a recent podcast that he used to be a fast food junkie, a friend of mine mentioned she could not believe at one time he ate chili cheese burritos all day every day. Ha! Friends, this was a reality. There’s no one as surprised as we are to be doing what we do today.
Just how did we make it from fast food to cooking at home? We have a few tips and tricks, but they’re far from glamorous. One of the best is: practice, practice, practice. Some of you may remember hearing me confess that I grew up as a classically-trained musician. I don’t talk about it much since there’s a lot to unpack there (I’ll delve into it more someday, if you’d like?), but the biggest theme of all of those years was practice. I was constantly practicing, on an endless cycle of eat-practice-sleep-eat-practice-sleep. Perhaps I was a little intense about it (yes), but in all those hours I was able to get endless real-life experience that I could never have had otherwise.
I loved Alex’s quote from our latest podcast (last pod-reference, I promise!) that the great thing about food is that we have a chance to practice every single day. That means, if you take up cooking as a hobby, you have a built-in chance to practice that hobby every day. AND it’s an activity easily shared with friends, roommates, husbands, wives, gf’s, bf’s, and kids, so that they can get in on the fun too. The more the merrier with this practice! (Versus my sad self all alone in the practice room. See, I said it was a long story.)
Which brings me to this recipe. We’re constantly on the lookout for simple, easy weeknight meals, and part of that practicing is learning what we can whip up in a short time that also happens to be mind-blowingly good — not as simple as it sounds. Alex loves to experiment with new and unexpected flavors, and the other night he whipped up a healthy-ish pasta that was on point: garlic-infused olive oil, dark, leafy Tuscan kale, and chickpeas tossed with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of Old Bay. Unexpected flavors, but so, so good. And it’s on the table in 30 minutes — like a real person’s 30 minutes, not that lofty magazine recipe’s too good to be true 30 minutes.
Along with the seasonings, the biggest flavor factor in this dish is the olive oil. For this dish, we used our favorite olive oil out of California called California Olive Ranch. We love their product because the flavor is so pronounced; much more flavorful than your typical olive oil. It’s perfect for any type of simple pasta outside of this recipe. A couple of interesting olive oil facts to close us out:
- It’s good for you: Incorporating olive oil as a part of your daily diet has shown to prevent cancers, promote heart health, lower blood pressure, and decrease risk of diabetes.
- It’s a fruit juice: Olive oil comes from the flesh of the olive. If you live near an olive tree try this: pick a fruit and smash it in your palm. You will have both water and olive oil on your hand. For that reason olive oil is considered a raw fruit juice. It is a healthy mono-unsaturated fat that is extracted with a simple crushing process, using no chemicals or solvents like other refined oils.
We hope you enjoy the recipe, and let us know what other recipes you’re trying out in your daily practice :)
- 12 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
- 15-ounce can chickpeas
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale (6 to 8 cups chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (we used California Olive Ranch)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- ½ cup sour cream
- Kosher salt
- Bring a salted pot of water to a boil (add about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to the water). Break noodles in half before boiling, then boil until al dente.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Remove the stems from the kale and chop it. Peel 2 garlic cloves.
- In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil with whole cloves of garlic. Once warm, add chickpeas and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, and 1 pinch red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
- Add kale and saute until the greens are reduced, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pasta, then stir to fully combine. Stir in ½ cup sour cream. Remove the whole garlic cloves and serve immediately.
This post is sponsored by California Olive Ranch. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the partners who keep A Couple Cooks in action!