Pasta e Ceci ( Pasta and Chickpeas) is my favourite Italian comfort food. Economical to make and extremely nourishing, it is a little wet like a soup, but substantial like a meal. Akin to Pasta e Fagioli ( Pasta and beans), I begin to make this dish for lunch once Autumn turns the next dark corner.
There are many versions around, but they are all noted for their simplicity. Don’t feel the need to doctor it or add things. Classic Italian dishes taste so good because of restraint.
The basic recipe
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1/4 cup EV olive oil
- one small fresh red chilli, finely chopped
- two garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or the equivalent from a can, plus a little juice.
- salt, pepper
- a handful of small pasta, for example, small macaroni, digitali, or torn fettucine
- EV olive oil, to drizzle
- lots of grated parmigiana
Soak chick peas overnight and cook the following day until done, or use the quick soak method. Drain when cooked.
Add the olive oil to a heavy based soup pot. Fry the soffrito ( the rosemary, garlic and chilli) gently for a minute, then add the tomatoes. Cook for a little, add a splash of water. Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted water, drain, and retain some of the cooking water.
Below- a few soffrito ingredients) Add the cooked chickpeas to the hot tomato mixture, add salt and pepper to taste and 1/2 cup of pasta water. Heat, then add the cooked pasta. Serve in large, warmed shallow pasta bowls with a drizzle of your best oil and some grated parmigiana cheese. Red wine and bread ? Yes please.