Whole-wheat pasta is a great alternative to regular pasta, and in the Italian tradition it is not a novelty. In Italy, pastas are made from buckwheat, farro, corn, chestnut, and chickpea flour, just to name a few. What is important to know is that each flour dictates a different cooking time for the pasta. For whole wheat, make sure to follow the instructions on cooking time; it does take longer than regular pasta, because the bran part has to be cooked. If it is not cooked enough, it remains chewy and won’t absorb the sauce well.
- 2 cups dry chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- One 15-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 1 pound whole-wheat penne
- 2 cups grated Grana Padano cheese
- Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
- 2 cups shredded low-moisture mozzarella
Combine the drained chickpeas, bay leaves, and 2 quarts water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain, and discard the bay leaves.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over -medium–high heat. Add the garlic. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the -red–pepper flakes and tomatoes, along with 1 cup of slosh water from the tomato can. Add the sage, salt, and cooked chickpeas. Bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta until it is al dente. Transfer the pasta with a spider to the sauce, and add 1 cup pasta water. Simmer until the sauce just comes together again, about 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in 1 cup grated Grana Padano or -Parmigiano–Reggiano.
Grease a -4–quart baking dish with butter, and pour in the -pasta–and–sauce mixture. In a small bowl, toss together the remaining Grana Padano or -Parmigiano–Reggiano and the shredded mozzarella, and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes. Serve.