You know those nights when you need food, and you need it fast? And you don’t want fast food or some frozen monstrosity; you want real food. The problem is, we often mislabel real food as time-consuming, costly, and energy-draining to make. Let’s set the record straight: it doesn’t have to be that way. You can have an incredible dinner and make it in 30 minutes or less. Plus, it can be satisfying, nutritious, and just plain old good.
Where’s my evidence, you ask?
Right here: Chickpea, Feta, & Spinach Marinara with Penne.
I whipped up this delicious dinner with ingredients I already had on hand, and it was awesome. It came together quickly with next to no effort, but it was so hearty and packed with flavor that you would’ve thought I spent all night in the kitchen. It’s crazy comforting, but nutritious and substantial too thanks to whole wheat pasta, fresh spinach, and chickpeas. There’s so many good things happening here; it’s like a super dish.
I’ve got to tell you, this marinara sauce is KILLER. It tastes like you grandma was slaving in the kitchen all day to make it. But guess what? It only took a few minutes! The secret is sweet, good-quality San Marzano tomatoes, fresh garlic, onions, and spicy red pepper flakes. It’s flavorpalooza. In fact, if you just wanted plain old spaghetti with marinara sauce for dinner, then this is your go-to sauce. No slow-cooking or sweat necessary!
What makes this dish refreshing is the mix-ins: protein-packed chickpeas that are tender and buttery, fresh spinach, and tangy feta cheese. Everything works together so well; it’s like a symphony played exclusively for your taste buds.
This is a filling and satisfying meat-free dish packed with protein and nutrients. It’s perfect to whip up on a weeknight.
Forget fast food or boxed meals; a quick and easy homemade meal is only 30 minutes away.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- To make this even healthier, I recommend using fat-free or reduced-fat feta cheese. It is definitely the best reduced-fat cheese out there. You can barely tell the difference!
- Use fresh herbs and garlic, or don’t bother. Dried, fake junk isn’t worth your time.
- This is an awesome vegetarian dish!
- You could use parmesan in place of feta if you like.
Chickpea, Feta, & Spinach Marinara w/ Whole Wheat Penne
By The Smart Cookie Cook
- 1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 a yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 28-oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh basil
- salt, to taste
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to boxed directions. Drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the olive oil to medium-low heat and add the butter. Let melt. Add the garlic and onions and cook until translucent and aromatic, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the San Marzano tomatoes from the can, leaving the juices in the can. Chop tomatoes until they reach your desired size. Add to the saucepan along with the juices and stir. Stir in the tomato sauce, sugar, spinach, chickpeas, and basil. Cover and cook until spinach is wilted and chickpeas are tender, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes.
- Stir in salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Add feta and mix until melty. Turn off heat and stir in the pasta until well-coated. Serve immediately.