Saffron Pasta & Chickpeas with Smoked Tomatoes

On Friday, 29th May, we took part in Belazu’s Virtual Banquet cookalong; a fundraising event run by the Belazu Foundation to support the wonderful Chefs in Schools. 7 dishes, 7 top chefs, 2000 particpants on Zoom, delicious ingredients from Belazu, Wellocks, Maldon and Mindful Chef, and 3½ hours to cook it all.

We managed six of the dishes and were just too full to make the last, a Saffron Gigli & Chickpeas with Smoked Tomatoes, so I made this this evening instead, and adapted the recipe somewhat to use up a few extra ingredients I had lying around. Thanks to Helen Graham, head chef at the incredible Bubala restaurant, for the basis for this recipe.

This served 4 adults


1g saffron
200g pasta of your choice. I used a combination of wholemeal fusilli and white gigli
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion – peeled and sliced into half rings
2 cloves garlic – peeled and finely sliced
1 teaspoon Harissa paste
150g drained smokey semi dried tomatoes – roughly chopped (if you can’t find these, use sun-blushed or sun-dried tomatoes and littlee smoked paprika (about a teaspoon)
150g roasted peppers – roughly chopped
400g tinned or jar of cooked chickpeas – drained
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
A large handful of spinach leaves
A small handful of sage leaves


Half fill a large saucepan with water, add the saffron and bring to the boil. When boiking, add the pasta and cook as per the instructions on the packet.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook until softened then add the chopped smoked tomatoes, the peppers and the harissa. Fry for 2-3 minutes before adding the drained chickpeas. Cook for a further 3 minutes, then add salt and black peper along with the chopped spinach leaves. Stir and cook until the spinach has wilted.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the vegetables

Take a small frying pan and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot add the sage leaves and fry until the crisp. This takes just a minute or two.

Arrange the crispy sage leaves over the pasta dish and serve

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