This Vegetarian Baked Ziti With Chorizo-Spiced Chickpeas recipe is packed with vegetables, protein-rich beans, gooey cheese, and deliciously carb-y pasta.
Wyatt, who is not at all opinionated and very rarely comments on anything VV related, turned to me last week and goes ‘You should have a posting schedule for your blog so your readers know when to expect a new post’. I normally would have been glad for the suggestion but I was just so surprised to hear him taking an interest in my ‘readers’ that I was a little bit taken aback. In my mind, I already had a schedule of posting every Monday and Thursday. I defensively told him this and the moment the words came out of my mouth, I regretted them. They immediately held weight that I would have to keep up with this schedule now that I had acknowledged out loud that it was real. Fast forward to last night, I sat down at 10 PM (2 hours before my Monday “deadline”) and stared at the blank screen. What is it about structure and deadlines that so easily destroys creativity?
As I sat there wondering why no words were coming to fruition, I thought back to when I was a kid and had decided to embark on writing my first ‘novel’. I was somewhere in the range of late elementary school / early middle school (I was old enough to have my own computer in my room thanks to my computer engineer step-father building it for me but was too young to be spending Friday / Saturday nights out with friends). I would shut myself in my room late at night, turn my IM (instant messenger) on to chat with my best friend, and work on my novel. I’d get into the flow of writing and bouncing ideas around on IM until 1 or 2 in the morning. I’d be shocked to find the time had slipped away so fast but pleased that I’d written another 5 or so pages. That novel was about two human-like wolves that were abducted by friendly aliens and I was so proud of that 30 page manuscript which took months to compile.
Why is it that at age 10 I had the discipline to sit down for hours and write so freely? Why do I allow nagging morning responsibilities like taking the dog for a walk, making breakfast, and doing house work convince me to crawl into bed at 10 PM instead of burning the midnight oil that fuels my creativity? These are the kind of questions that make me fearful to put my whole energy into this space. To say eff it to the day job, the magazine, and all the other ‘distractions’ that make up my life and devote my time to creating recipes, photographing, and writing. What if I wake up one day without anything else to say? With writers block from the pressure? These are the questions that can only be answered through experience so I will go on wondering until I finally decide to make that plunge (if I ever decide to make that plunge).
That isn’t to say that this place isn’t amazing and my special place. I honestly really love the process and find my creative flow the most during the photographing process. After almost five years, I’m still trying to get the writing part down.
And on to this Vegetarian Baked Ziti With Chorizo-Spiced Chickpeas! This stuff is heavenly – cheesy, carby, and full of spice! I posted about these chorizo-spiced chickpeas back in May and am basically still obsessed. I threw them into this ziti for an extra protein boost and it was so so so perfect! In addition to the chickpeas, you’ll find this ziti bake packed with vegetables – pieces of zucchini, onion, tomato, and bell pepper. Oh, and of course, lots and lots of gooey cheese!
Vegetarian Baked Ziti With Chorizo-Spiced Chickpeas:
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed, or 1½ cups fresh chickpeas
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp smoked ground paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground oregano
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 bay leaf, ground up in a mortar & pestle (optional)
- dash of pepper
- 4 ounces uncooked ziti
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 large zucchinis, diced small
- 1 onion, diced small
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cracked pepper
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan
- For the chickpeas: Preheat oven 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Transfer chickpeas to a small mixing bowl and coat the 1 tsp olive oil and vinegar.
- In another small dish, whisk together paprika, cumin, chili powder, coriander, salt, bay leaf (if using), and pepper.
- Pour spice mixture over chickpeas and toss to coat.
- Transfer to a baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes or until crispy, tossing halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Lower oven heat to 400 degrees and grease a 9" baking dish.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together ricotta, egg, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. Saute for five to seven minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and saute until they begin to soften, an additional three to five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pasta, chickpeas, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the top has browned.
- Remove from heat and serve warm.