Hummus Pasta with Tomatoes and Olives. Photo for The Washington Post by Tom McCorkle/food styling for The Washington Post by Gina Nistico

One of the many things chickpeas (like so many other legumes) can do is turn into a sauce for coating noodles. Mash or puree them with a little olive oil and seasoning, thin that out with pasta cooking water, and you’ve got dinner.

Toni Okamoto has an even faster way. Instead of starting with chickpeas, she starts with hummus: already pureed, already seasoned, with plenty of flavor (hopefully) from tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. It’s one of the many great ideas in her latest book, “Plant-Based on a Budget: Quick & Easy,” and demonstrates one of her most important points: Time is money.

Okamoto started her blog because she wanted to find the most affordable plant-based meals and share them with others who wanted to eat more healthfully without breaking the bank. But along the way, her blog led to a full-time career (including four cookbooks and a podcast), and “completely transformed” her finances.

“While I still avoid wasting food, I no longer obsess and get stressed about every penny spent and every grain of rice,” she writes. “Today, I’ve shifted my focus to saving time. This creates more space in my life for the things I really love.”

I haven’t calculated the difference between making this dish with store-bought hummus and making it with chickpeas you cook from dried, or use from a can, but the former is surely the priciest. If you’re using leftover hummus, though, you’re saving time while also avoiding waste. And as someone who has gone on record multiple times about my disdain for so much of the store-bought hummus that’s out there, I approve of this as yet another way of putting the sometimes-pasty stuff to good use.

Perhaps the most important reason for making this is that it’s so tasty. The hummus coats the noodles beautifully, while tomatoes in two forms – sun-dried and fresh – plus olives and basil give it more zings of flavor. I could imagine all sorts of add-ins, too, depending on what you’ve got around and what you feel like eating. That includes roasted cauliflower, tender greens, and the most obvious one of all: more chickpeas.


Hummus Pasta with Tomatoes and Olives

Total time: 20 mins

4 servings

This quick one-pot recipe combines leftover or store-bought hummus with pasta, tomatoes, olives and basil to create a creamy vegan dish with flavorful sparks. This is as good cold or at room temperature as it is warm. Since different brands or recipes for hummus vary in saltiness, be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.



Fine salt

1 (1-pound) package bucatini, spaghetti or your other favorite pasta

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)

1 cup hummus

1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, plus more for garnish

2/3 cup sliced kalamata olives, plus more for garnish


1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste

Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente.


While the pasta is cooking, scoop out 2 cups of the boiling water from the pot and transfer to a small bowl. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and let them soak until tender, 5 to 10 minutes, then drain and chop.

When the pasta is done, scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain. Return the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved water to the same pot and stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, hummus, fresh tomatoes, olives, basil, lemon juice and pepper, tossing to combine. Add some or all of the remaining cooking water if needed to loosen the sauce. Taste, and season with salt, more lemon juice and/or pepper, if needed.

Garnish with more tomatoes, olives and basil, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Nutrition | Per serving (2 cups): 625 calories, 107g carbohydrates, 0mg cholesterol, 13g fat, 8g fiber, 21g protein, 2g saturated fat, 781mg sodium, 10g sugar

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