Spaghetti alla cici, aglio y olio (or just Fancy-Tasting Pantry Pasta)

Last night I was craving some flavorful, fancy-tasting pasta (probably because I’ve been marking interesting recipes in an Italian cookbook), but didn’t have man fresh ingredients. So, I came up with this recipe that’s heavy on stuff-on-hand, and it was so delicious. Think creamy olive oil and garlic meets alfredo, but without all the fat, and plus protein.

Here’s what you need:

12 ounces spaghetti (or any other pasta of your choice)

1/4 cup olive oil (quality helps, but doesn’t have to be fancy)

6 large garlic cloves (or the equivalent if using smaller ones), sliced

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1.5 cups milk, divided (I used 2%)

1.5 cups shredded parmesan, or Romano, or grana padano, or whatever you have that’s similar

generous salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over low heat. Add the garlic. Turn up the heat a bit until you see the garlic begin to sizzle a little. Then turn back down and allow the garlic to cook. Make sure the heat doesn’t get too high or the garlic might burn. Stir occasionally.

2. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. When finished, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain and rinse the pasta and place it in a large bowl (or back into the pot you cooked it in, to cut down on cleaning).

3. Add half a cup of milk plus the garbanzo beans to a blender or food processor. Blend until smoothish.

4. Once the garlic has softened and turned slightly browned (about 15 minutes, but taste if softened to your liking), stir the garbanzo bean mixture into the pan. Then add the reserved pasta water. Turn up the heat, and stir to combine. Next, add the remaining milk, and the cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to cook until warmed through and the cheese is melty, about 4 minutes.

5. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix to combine. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed, and more cheese if needed.

(And I probably don’t need to mention that the variations are endless. I had some fresh parsley from my dad’s garden, so I threw some in. Basil would be great too. Or some chopped up tomatoes. Some chicken or sausage…)

Enjoy!

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