2 or 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnut pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 2 teaspoons for the cooking water
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (about 3 ounces), plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for the cooking water
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 to 2 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 pound angel hair pasta
1 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
1. Combine the garlic, nuts, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the bowl of a food processor and process the ingredients until they are finely chopped. Add the basil and olive oil and process again until the herb is finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times.
2. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, then stir in the cheese and softened butter. Spread half of the pesto in the bottom of a shallow pasta serving bowl and reserve the rest.
3. Now prepare the pasta by bringing 4 to 5 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of salt to the boiling water. Gradually add the pasta and cook it according to the package directions. Add the chickpeas for the last minute of cooking.
4. Once they've cooked, immediately drain the pasta and chickpeas and transfer them to the pesto bowl without delay to keep the cooked angel hair from clumping together. Spoon the remaining pesto onto the pasta and toss well. Serve at once, garnishing each portion with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves. Makes 4 to 5 servings.