Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
My mom served this humble meal often during my childhood. The perfume of the simmering tomato sauce not only filled the house but spilled out the kitchen window too. The only thing was that as I child, I didn't like chickpeas. I remember picking them out and sneaking them onto my dad's plate. I don't remember when I started liking them but now, I love them! This combination of buttery ceci beans with pasta is so traditional that it is a featured dish at our Donnici Club Regional Dinner during Festitalia, an annual event that promotes Italian culture and heritage in Hamilton and surrounding areas. While the recipe works with store-bought sauce and chickpeas, the true beauty comes from homemade tomato sauce and super soft chickpeas that you can only get by cooking them yourself.
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp chilli flakes, optional
- 5 cups passata or tomato puree
- 2- 3 spring fresh basil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 - 3 cups cooked chickpeas, salted
- 1 pkg (500g) tubetti
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Fresh hot pepper, finely chopped (Optional)
Prepare the Tomato Sauce:
In a large saucepan, lightly heat oil. Add the garlic, oregano, and chili flakes and stir. Cook until the garlic softens and begins to change colour. Do not brown the garlic or it will burn. (If you prefer, you can slice the garlic, cook in the oil, and then remove after it has softened.)
Carefully add the passata. Stir in salt and add basil. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.
Allow to simmer, stirring often for about 45 minutes. The sauce is cooked when it has reduced by about one-third and thickened. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
Assemble the Dish:
In the last 10 minutes of the sauce, boil the pasta according to the directions on the package.
If the chickpeas are cold or room temperature, place them in the pasta strainer. This way, when you strain the pasta, the boiling pasta water will heat up the chickpeas. Drain well.
Place the pasta and chickpeas back in the pot. Add enough sauce to thoroughly coat the pasta and chickpeas. Place on stove on high heat and stir often to allow the ingredients to mingle for a minute or two. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve hot with extra grated cheese.
For a traditional touch, top with the fresh hot pepper.
Go to https://www.festitalia.ca/recipes/pasta-e-ceci/ for a video demonstration of this dish as part of their Heritage Month Recipes.
Traditionally, this dish is made with tubetti or ditali. The video shows how to make homemade lagane, another traditional pasta for this dish.