It is said that invention can only be made possible by desperation. It’s something like this. 

In my case, a months-long drought of Spanish chorizo at the grocery store took me down a path of recipe tinkering that resulted in a vegan pasta dish that — dare I say it — makes me feel downright smug. 

The idea was born about a decade back, when I had the chance to discover it. A great recipe for 2007 is spaghetti with almonds and chorizo.Epicurious. Spanish chorizo’s beguiling subtlety shines when paired with such like-minded co-stars as garlic, dry white wine and floral saffron — then tossed with pasta and the welcomed heft of creamy chickpeas and toasted almonds. 

The resulting dish is gorgeous and balanced — tinted orange from the rendered chorizo and saffron-tinged stock. I made it a part of my daily cooking routine. I loved it until I couldn’t find Spanish Chorizo at my local grocery. 

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Mexican chorizo was too spicy for me to use as a substitute. I also couldn’t find a good dry-cured alternative. Instead, I leaned on the dish’s other deliciously subtle components, many of which are vegan. I subbed in vegetable stock for chicken broth — mainly because it’s my preferred boxed stock where flavor is concerned. Lemon juice was used to substitute for the wine. I have plenty. The lemon flavor and brightness it gives vintagey saffron I have come to love, has been my favorite. 

It is delicately simple, but the dish tastes amazing. (See? (See? I don’t know exactly when the vegan version was officially replaced in my monthly rotation. It is obvious that I am self-righteous beyond time. 

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Recipe: Chickpea and Safron Ravioli 

Ingredients

Salt as needed

1 box spaghetti 

If you need olive oil

Six fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

Rinsed chickpeas from a can of 14-ounces.

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus a handful more for garnish

It is possible to crush red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

Juice of one juicy lemon (or 1 ½ if your lemon is stingy)

⅓ cup low-sodium vegetable stock

½ cup slivered or sliced almonds, dry toasted in a skillet (save a tiny handful for garnish, please)

One handful of chopped fresh chive leaf, optionally.

 

Instructions

  • Boil a large saucepan of salted water. While the water boils, heat up a skillet or large heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium high. Add a generous ¼ cup of olive oil to the skillet. When the skillet shimmers, add the garlic and chickpeas along with parsley.
  • Sauté until the chickpeas soften a little and the garlic just turns golden. 
  • The lemon juice should be added to the skillet. Bring the skillet to boil. Turn down heat to medium, then reduce the flame and allow the liquid to simmer until reduced half-way. You can taste the liquid at any point in the simmering stage and adjust salt, lemon juice and other ingredients as needed. 
  • Cook your pasta  until it is al dente, then add it promptly to the skillet along with the toasted almonds and a glug of olive oil; toss until everything is yellow-tinged and glossy.
  • Serve in warmed, shallow bowls. Add the remaining herbs, almonds and a drizzle of olive oil to finish. 
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    You will be transported to Spain by this almond and chickpea pasta packed with saffron

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