Here's a colourful and easy vegetarian dish that makes a satisfying main course all on its own. It's a delicious way to mix pasta and beans, in this case chickpeas, for a good balance of protein and starchy carbohydrate.
For tagliatelle with cannellini beans, use tagliatelle or fettuccine instead of spaghetti, and replace the chickpeas with canned cannellini or haricot beans. Instead of spinach, add 200 g (7 oz) cooked asparagus spears, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) lengths, to the sauce. Just before serving, stir in 85 g (3 oz) thin strips of trimmed Parma ham; omit the pecorino cheese. * Grill 4 lean rashers of back bacon until crisp and golden, then drain well and chop roughly. Stir into the tomato sauce with the chickpeas. Reduce the pecorino cheese to 30 g (1 oz).
Despite its name, the chickpea is not really a pea but a seed. Chickpeas contain good amounts of iron, manganese and folate, and are richer in vitamin E than most other pulses. * Pasta, like bread and potatoes, has a reputation for being fattening, but in fact it is healthily low in fat – it's butter, cheese and rich sauces that pile on the calories and fat. * By cooking the spinach leaves in the sauce very briefly, just to wilt them, all their juices and the maximum nutrients are retained.
A * C, E, folate, niacin, calcium, copper, iron, potassium, zinc * B1, B6