The Mild Ingredient You Can Use To Thicken Pasta Sauce

At times, we may add a little too much reserved pasta water or make a homemade marinara with watery tomatoes, resulting in a sauce that's far too thin. If you're scrambling around trying to figure out what to use to remedy the mistake, simply look in the pantry for a can of chickpeas. This no-frills ingredient is an easy shortcut for a thicker pasta sauce.

Although chickpeas and pasta might sound like they'd have completely disparate flavors, iterations of the beans have already been used in sauces for noodles. Hummus is the key to a dreamy pasta sauce, offering noodles a thick, creamy coating that can be dressed up with miso paste, lemon zest, and more. When added to a rich tomato sauce or herbaceous pesto, the chickpeas fit right in, elevating it with their mild, nutty flavor. Plus, chickpea flour is great in gravies and soups, thickening them up with ease.

For pasta sauce, however, you can simply rely on a good old can of chickpeas. Blend them into a smooth puree that you can add to the sauce. When blending, make sure to include the starchy liquid from the can, otherwise known as aquafaba. Not only will the starches help to dry up the liquid in your watery pasta sauce, but they also make the chickpea puree creamier. If you don't have a blender, you can simmer the chickpeas in the pasta sauce and crush them once they soften.

What type of pasta sauces should you add chickpeas to?

Chickpeas are mild, so they won't add an offensive taste or smell to your pasta sauce. They will, however, add a creamier texture and a good dose of protein, too. As a plant-based product, chickpeas are an excellent thickener for a veganized version of Gigi Hadid's pasta. The nutritional yeast the recipe calls for will give the legumes a savory touch, almost as if a delicious parmesan sauce were stirred into the sauce. Simmer the chickpea puree with vodka, coconut milk, and nutritional yeast for a creamy sauce with well-blended flavors.

Speaking of creamy sauces, adding the beans to Alfredo sauce is one of the best uses for canned chickpeas. The beans emit a nutty flavor into the Alfredo sauce, giving it a slight underpinning of depth without altering its taste completely. After simmering the butter and cream together, whisk the blended chickpeas into the pan along with some parmesan.

If you like your pesto to be on the velvety side like Alfredo sauce but want to thicken it with something less fatty than heavy cream, canned chickpeas are the right choice. Not only do they enhance the earthy flavor of the pesto, but they can also be used in place of pine nuts for a nut-free sauce. To make sun-dried tomato pesto pasta, blend the chickpeas, aquafaba, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil into a smooth puree before adding in parmesan, salt, and pepper, and pulsing once more.