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  • Writer's picturedaniel smith

The Shiatsu Bus Food Energetics series: Chickpeas cacio e pepe with Spinach and rice

Updated: May 19, 2022

In this version of the dish, I use chickpeas instead of pasta to create an overall more nutritionally rich dish. The accompaniment of pickled chillies is optional but adds great flavour and the seeds can be removed to create less heat. Energetically the chillies are great for stimulating circulation and Yang energy.

The chickpeas have a strengthening as well as drying action and the liberal use of black pepper has the effect of countering Cold and Dampness affecting the Spleen and Stomach. Dampness in the Spleen affects the whole digestive system, the muscles, and our ability to concentrate. The chickpeas are essentially sweet which makes them the perfect choice for strengthening Deficiency. Their concentrated nutritional content, here combined with spinach, makes them useful for tonifying the Blood and Yin and in draining Dampness from the body. Chickpeas nourish the Stomach and Heart and resolve Dampness really well. Parsley, another great Blood nourisher, is useful for keeping the urinary system healthy too.

These chickpeas are inspired by cacio e pepe, a rich Italian dish of pasta coated in lavish amounts of butter, black pepper, and cheese. This uses a similar technique applied to our favourite little bean, using the flavourful Parmesan chickpea water to create the emulsified sauce.

COOK-Less than an hour Serves 4 INGREDIENTS 2x 400g tin chickpeas 3 tbsp olive oil 8 garlic cloves, crushed 80g Parmesan, finely grated, plus 1-2 optional Parmesan rinds 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda 2 red chilies, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds and all 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 250g baby spinach 15g parsley, roughly chopped 100g unsalted butter, fridge cold and cut into 2cm cubes salt and black pepper

Rice to serve

METHOD 1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas well and set them aside. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a large sauté pan, and place on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for 90 seconds until starting to colour. Add the Parmesan rinds, if using, the drained chickpeas, 1 litre of veg stock, and a very generous amount of coarsely cracked black pepper (give it about 40 grinds). Add ¾ teaspoon of salt and continue cooking, covered, for another 45 minutes, or until the chickpeas are very soft and the liquid has reduced by about half.

  1. Meanwhile, mix together the chilies, vinegar, and a small pinch of salt in a small bowl. Set aside to pickle.

  2. Towards the last 10 minutes of cooking the chickpeas, put the last tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, cook the spinach, adding it to the pan in batches with ¼ teaspoon of salt until just wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the parsley and remove it from the heat.

  3. When the chickpeas are ready, add a quarter of the butter cubes and about 15g of grated Parmesan, mixing until the butter has melted into the sauce. Continue in this way, adding a quarter more of the butter and 15g more of Parmesan until you’ve used up all 100g of butter and 60g of cheese. Finally, add another very generous grind of coarsely ground black pepper. The sauce will have thickened significantly, coating the chickpeas nicely. Add a splash of more water if you like it looser. Remove the Parmesan rinds, if using.

  4. Top with the spinach mixture, the pickled chilies, and their liquid and a final sprinkling of Parmesan, serving any extra grated Parmesan alongside with rice.

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