Chickpea Bolognese

April  5, 2014
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I love a good Bolognese and often make it with a variety of meats, including ground turkey as an alternative to pork, veal, or beef. This time I gave it a shot with chickpeas and it turned out rather well... —inpatskitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Inpatskitchen is a retired teacher, paralegal, and a four-time contest winner.
WHAT: Your new go-to sauce.
HOW: A classic mirepoix is done quickly in a food processor, then you sauté a parade of ingredients; simmer; briefly blend; and pile it all atop pasta.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Don't be fooled by the beans -- this sauce is deeply flavored and complex, rich from a little cream and earthy from dried porcini. Spooned onto pasta or polenta with a shower of Parmesan, this has us forgetting all about the Italian classic. —The Editors

  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 ounces pancetta (or bacon in a pinch) chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas, or two 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional but oh so good!)
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes (or another good plum tomato)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup light cream or half and half
  • 1 pinch salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 handful Parmesan cheese for finishing
  • 1 pound dried pasta, cooked to al dente
In This Recipe
  1. Pour the cup of boiling water over the porcini and let steep for about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and pancetta in the bowl of a food processor and process until not quite smooth. You want a little texture here.
  3. Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven and add the chickpeas. Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes, making sure the chickpeas are coated with the oil. Add the processed mixture and continue to sauté until the vegetables soften and become fragrant.
  4. Add the basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes and continue to sauté another minute or two. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the soaking liquid and chop finely. Add them to the pot. Strain and reserve the liquid.
  5. With your clean hands, crush the tomatoes and add them to the pot along with the wine and the porcini soaking liquid. Bring up to a simmer and simmer, partially covered, for about an hour. Stir occasionally.
  6. After an hour, use an immersion blender to break down about half of the chickpeas. Add the light cream and bring back up to a simmer. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Off the heat, stir in the torn basil leaves.
  7. Serve over pasta garnished with Parmesan and drizzled with a little olive oil if you like.

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Recipe by: inpatskitchen

I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I learned...to this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining. My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!