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Gigli with chickpeas and za'atar

Main Midweek
Serves 4
Featured in
Simple cookbook

Gigli means ‘lilies’ in Italian, and their floral wavy edges are a great vehicle for the chickpeas and anchovies in the sauce. Orecchiette (ears) or conchiglie (shells), are also good for scooping and work really well here too.


45ml olive oil, plus extra to serve
½ onion, finely chopped (100g)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
10g thyme leaves, finely chopped
25g anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (about 7)
1 lemon: finely shave the skin of ½, then juice to get 2 tbsp
2 x 400g tins cooked chickpeas, drained (480g)
1 tsp soft brown sugar
400ml chicken stock
200g gigli pasta (or conchiglie or orecchiette)
50g baby spinach leaves
15g parsley, roughly chopped
1½ tsp za'atar
salt and black pepper


  1. Put the olive oil into a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, thyme, anchovies, lemon skin, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Fry for 3–4 minutes, stirring often, until soft and golden. Reduce the heat to medium high, then add the chickpeas and sugar and fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas begin to brown and crisp up. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice and simmer for 6 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside. You can make this in advance, if you like, and warm through before serving.
  2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Stir the spinach and parsley into the chickpeas: the residual heat of the sauce should cook the spinach, but if it doesn’t wilt, just warm the chickpeas gently on the stove. Transfer the pasta to the pan of chickpeas and stir to combine. Divide between four bowls and sprinkle the za'atar on top. Finish with a drizzle of oil, and serve.