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I truly wish I could take credit for this amazing Italian dish, but I can’t! A few year ago, my mom made me this delicious meal for lunch. The recipe came from Food and Wine Magazine. Chef Missy Robbins of Lilia Restaurant in Brooklyn got one of the top 40 best recipes in Food and Wine in 2018 for this dish! It swaps chickpeas for pasta and is hearty enough to satisfy any pasta lover.

I just love the flavor from the fennel and kick of spicy heat from the red pepper. This recipe is so healthy and delectable! I made a few simple changes to Missy’s original recipe, and I am sharing my version below. Missy added more olive oil and 2 cans of chickpeas. Feel free to experiment and see which way you like it better. Enjoy!


1/4 cup olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1-28 oz can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 tsp salt

1 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tsp fennel seed

1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

1-15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Fresh chopped basil

Finely grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, optional (omit for dairy free)


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant but not brown. Add tomatoes, red pepper, fennel seeds, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. 

Add the kale into the sauce and stir well, until kale is wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl, topped with basil. Add cheese, if using. Enjoy!