Dinner Almost as Fast as the Pasta Cooks


If you are in a hurry and looking for a vegetarian (actually, vegan) main dish, here is one that has been a family standby for years.

Garbanzos and Shells with Spinach

1 T olive or canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
red pepper flakes (optional)
2 to 3 t tomato paste
15 oz can garbanzo beans
10 to 16 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
liquid from beans plus water to make 1 cup
9 oz pasta shells, cooked and drained

1. Put water on to boil for the pasta. Cook as usual. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic in oil until the onion is translucent.
3. Add all remaining ingredients except pasta and simmer together until just heated through.
4. Just before serving, fold in pasta shells and top with freshly ground pepper and, if desired, grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 to 5.

This can also be made with fresh spinach; just chop and steam lightly in the microwave. If you use garbanzos you have cooked yourself, you may want to add a bit of salt.

Though it might add a few more minutes to the prep time, a cup of finely diced carrots sauteed with the onions adds some good color to the dish.

Keep canned garbanzos, pasta shells, and frozen spinach on hand for a last minute meal to serve to guests, as this has great taste and looks like a lot more work than it really is. Sliced tomatoes or baby carrots are simple side dishes that can also be prepared while the pasta is cooking.

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