Spaghetti with Chunky Tomato & Chickpea Sauce

With some simple ingredients and 30 minutes of your time, you've got yourself a whole new pasta sauce! Thank you to the April 2010 issue of the Vegetarian Times for this new recipe! You may ask yourself why this pasta sauce is new. Well, one of the key ingredients is chickpeas. Interesting, right? I typically use these suckers in salads and hummus and putting in a sauce would never have occurred to me. I guess I’m not as creative in the kitchen as I thought. Hmm. I don't know that a lot of people typically incorporate these beans in their recipes, but I love them! You'll be surprised by their nutty flavor and smooth texture—these little guys are a great addition to a tomato sauce. Also, with 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber (per one cup serving), they are really good for you! (This recipe serves 8.)

New Sauce 8 oz. (2 cups) sliced white or cremini mushrooms 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into chunks 1 large leek, white part cut into chunks 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 cloves garlic or more, minced (1 Tablespoon) 2 tablespoons dried oregano 2 teaspoons dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes (try to buy a can with no added salt) 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15 oz. can, rinsed and drained) 1/4 cup red wine 8 cups baby spinach leaves (you can get away with about 6 or less if you don't love spinach) 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (1/2 of a 1 pound package)

Place mushrooms, bell pepper, and leek in bowl of food processor. Pulse until ingredients are coarsely chopped. You can also just chop up the ingredients on a cutting board.

Heat oil in large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add mushroom mixture and garlic, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and wine, and season with sea salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spinach, and cook 3-5 minutes more, or until spinach has wilted.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. Portion pasta into bowls and serve with sauce on top. You can also add about a half tablespoon of fresh parmesan to the top for flavor and presentation.