Easy, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan friendly tomato basil chickpeas and spinach served over nutty quinoa for a quick, healthy, budget friendly weeknight meal.
How was everyone’s Thanksgivings? Did you eat way too much and now you don’t know if you can face your leftovers? Or are you completely pumped to start turning all of your leftovers in to new meals? Usually I’m a mix of both- I crave light, healthy foods while also wanting to eat the leftovers so things like my leftover turkey broccoli soup are definitely a go-to.
On Sunday my husband took me out for my birthday (which is actually today) for dinner with our friends and I ate probably the biggest meal I’d eaten in a while. We’re talkin’ a nice sized rare steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, some cheesy puree, fresh bread and plenty of butter. On a normal day I would have struggled to eat even half of that but sometimes the body needs what the body needs and this body needed bloody red meat. It happens to me about twice a month when I’m in need of extra iron and b12 and by the next day, my need for heavy meals involving meat drops to 0.
I woke up on Monday craving light, whole grain, high fiber, vegetable and fruit filled meals so I got to work on these tomato basil chickpeas and spinach.
While I was making this I was almost concerned that I wasn’t using enough ingredients to produce a flavorful, crave worthy meal but was incredibly pleased when it turned out to be one of those meals I’ll want to make every week as a general budget friendly, super healthy and crazy delicious meal that takes next to no time to make. The lack of ingredients means you do have to choose high quality items since each and every component of the meal shines but it still fit perfectly in to my $5/day food budget.
I used some pantry staples- canned whole roma tomatoes in tomato sauce, canned chickpeas, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Fresh add-ins are fresh spinach, garlic cloves, butter, basil and asiago cheese (optional). It comes together very quickly- as the quinoa cooks, the tomato sauce simmers and you saute the spinach and chickpeas in some butter, garlic and red pepper flakes. Once the sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, you combine it with the chickpeas and spinach, season to taste and then bowl it up with warm quinoa, plenty of extra basil and asiago. It couldn’t be easier.
I’m off to go pack and get ready for this birthday weekend away full of Christmas shopping and Christmas dinner theater with my lovely mother and sisters. Happy Birthday to you, too, Mom!
- 2 28oz cans whole peeled roma tomatoes in tomato sauce (san marzano is best)
- 3 + 1 cloves of garlic, divided
- 1 small bunch of basil + extra for serving
- 2½ tbsp olive oil, divided
- 3½ tbsp butter, divided*
- 1 pound of fresh spinach leaves, tough stems removed if they have them
- 1 540ml can of chickpeas rinsed and drained (2 cups cooked)
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 C uncooked quinoa
- 2 C water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- asiago, pecorino romano or parmesan to serve*
- Make the sauce: In a medium pot with a lid, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 3 smashed garlic cloves along with a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir the garlic for 1 minute.
- Add both cans of tomatoes carefully as they will splatter from the heat of the pan. Break up the tomatoes either with your hands or a wooden spoon. Bring the sauce to a simmer, add the bunch of basil, a few generous pinches of salt, then lower the temperature, place the lid askew on the pot and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small pot, combine quinoa, 2 cups of water and ¼ tsp salt. Cook according to package directions. Set aside.
- In a skillet, heat remaining butter and olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add the spinach, a couple handfuls at a time and saute until just wilted. You will need to do this in batches. Season to taste with salt and pepper then stir in the chickpeas. Remove from heat.
- When the sauce is done, add the 3 TBSP of butter and remove the basil. Stir until the butter is melted. Season with salt to taste. Ddd all of it to the skillet (if it can fit). Stir to combine and season to taste.
- Serve warm, over quinoa with extra basil leaves and plenty of cheese.
Leftovers will last 3-5 days covered in the fridge. Reheat on the stovetop in a small pot.
My other favorite ways to use this marinara sauce!