This chickpea and olive pasta recipe is made with green olive tapenade. Olive Tapenade is a magic ingredient you will want to have in your kitchen for those times when you need to have dinner on the table in minutes. It's so full of flavor, it is all you need to turn some pasta into dinner.
What is tapenade?
Tapenade is a paste made from olives, herbs, garlic, and capers. I made my own with lentils once, which makes a lovely high protein dip.
Tapenade can usually be found in most groceries where you find jars of olives and sundried tomatoes. Sometimes you will find it in the deli area. Most often tapenade is made from black olives, which is beautiful and yummy in its own right. Recently I found a jar of green olive tapenade - which is fresh and bright. And if you like olives of any variety, you will love this stuff.
Is tapenade vegan?
Check the labels of your tapenade. While many jarred tapenades are vegan, traditionally black olive tapenade includes anchovies. So if vegan is important to you, check your labels. Belazu brand is vegan and is available here. Green olive tapenade is more often vegan. Trader Joe's brand is also vegan.
For a quick and healthy pasta dinner, here is your game plan:
Start a large pot of water on to boil. Salt the water well.
While the water boils and pasta cooks, get out your favorite large serving bowl. Something big enough to toss the whole pasta dish in.
Open a can of chickpeas (rinse + drain) and throw them into the bowl. Add a generous scoop of green olive tapenade. Chop some walnuts and parsley. Save some of each for the topping, throw the rest into the bowl.
While the water boils and the pasta noodles cook, you have time to make the breadcrumb topping.
This toasted breadcrumb topping is a vegan substitute for parmesan
This topping feels a little 1980s to me. Deborah Madison used this technique often in her book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Always trust Deborah Madison.
It feels a bit redundant - breadcrumbs on top pasta. I get that. But try it.
Salty and toasted breadcrumbs fill in nicely for grated parmesan cheese. Actually better than parmesan. (Even if you use parmesan, you should do this toated breadcrumb thing too). Because its delicious, salty and crunchy. Just what a simple pasta dish like this needs to feel done.
To make the toasted breadcrumb topping for pasta
Grab a medium-sized nonstick skillet, I use my cast-iron skillet and heat it on medium-low heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, add the breadcrumbs and walnuts and toast until lightly browned and fragrant. Salt well. Remove from heat and toss in some fresh parsley.
When the pasta is al-dente, save some pasta water. Drain the pasta and throw it into that big serving bowl. Toss well. Add more tapenade if you feel it needs it. Add a splash of pasta water only if you feel it looks a bit dry. Just a splash. Not too much.
Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs on top. Serve. Dinner is done.... in about 15 minutes.
Green Olive Tapenade Pasta with Chickpeas
- ½ cup walnuts chopped finely, 3 Tablespoons reserved for topping
- ⅔ cup green olive tapenade
- ½ cup chickpeas
- 1 lb pasta your choice of noodles
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 T fresh parsley
- Start a large pot of salted water on high heat to boil to cook pasta according to package directions.
- While water bowls, chopped walnuts and parsley and add to a large serving dish. The dish should be deep enough to toss the cooked pasta. Also add tapenade, chickpeas.
- In a small skillet, on medium heat. Toast breadcrumbs and reserved 4 tablespoons of walnuts. Watch carefully as they will quickly burn. As soon as they start to become fragrant, add olive oil and remove from the heat and toss with remaining tablespoon of fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
- Reserve ½ cup or so of pasta cooking liquid. Drain pasta and add to serving bowl with tapenade and walnuts mixture. Toss to evenly coat pasta with tapenade. Add a splash of cooking liquid if the pasta seems too dry. Not too much! Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each serving with toasted breadcrumbs.