Pasta e ceci is an Italian dish with its origin dating back to the ancient Roman Empire. The English translation of pasta e Ceci is “pasta and chickpeas”. A flavorful tomato broth is used to cook vegetables, protein-rich chickpeas, and tender pasta. Freshly grated Parmesan is then added to finish the dish. You get something that is a cross between a soupy tomato pasta dish, stew, and soup. It takes only 30 minutes to prepare and is a simple weeknight meal choice because it is hearty, tasty, and only requires pantry ingredients. Given that all its ingredients are inexpensive and filling, it makes reasonable sense that people have been preparing them together in their own unique ways. You can prepare it using any of the numerous different types of fresh or dried noodles, such as small tubular shapes like ditalini or broken strands of long pasta.
Finally, there are the chickpeas. I discovered recipes that called for whole, mashed, smooth, blended, canned, or cooked dried chickpeas in all possible combinations. I ultimately chose two slightly different techniques for pasta e ceci: one for utilizing canned and one for dried cooked chickpeas.
Dried chickpeas are boiled in salted water with aromatics until tender; the cooking liquid is delicious and slightly thick due to the starchy beans.
Canned chickpeas work remarkably well and save cooking time by several hours. Even without the starchy boiling liquid, mixing a tiny quantity of the beans with some broth at the start of the one-pot meal would yield a similar substantial, creamy basis. In the end, you should feel free to utilize anything you have available.
- 60ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 4 medium-size garlic cloves, minced
- 1 stem fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 120ml of dry white wine
- 3 cups (510g) cooked dry chickpeas or two (425g) cans low-sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed, divided
- 4 cups chickpea cooking liquid, homemade chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 225g small tubular pasta, such as ditalini
- 55g finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
- Put oil in a big dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary, season lightly with salt, and simmer, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic softens and turns golden. Add the pepper flakes and simmer, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Cook for approximately a minute, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste is aromatic and has turned a deep brick red.
- Add wine and stir, using a wooden spoon to scrape out any browned bits. Bring to boil, then cook for 2 minutes, or until the wine and oil have combined and the mixture has somewhat decreased.
- When using cooked, dried chickpeas, add 1 cup (170g) of the legumes along with 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Chickpeas should be thoroughly broken down using a potato masher or wooden spoon to be mashed against the pot’s bottom and sides. Black pepper, the remaining 3 cups of cooking liquid, along with the remaining chickpeas, are stirred in. If necessary, additional stock or water may be added to reach 3 cups. Add salt to taste. Move on to Step 4. If using canned chickpeas, turn off the heat and take the rosemary sprig out of the Dutch oven. Add 1 cup (170g) of chickpeas and 1 cup (240ml) of stock, then puree the mixture using a blender for one to two minutes, until it is smooth. Refill Dutch oven with mixture. Black pepper, 3 cups of stock, and the remaining 2 cups (340 ml) of chickpeas should be stirred in. Season with salt.
- Using a medium-high heat, bring the chickpea mixture to a boil. Pasta should be added and cooked, stirring regularly, until the liquid is reduced and the pasta is just barely al dente ( about 1 to 2 minutes less than the pasta’s package instructions).
- Remove from heat, quickly whisk in cheese. Add salt to taste. Add salt to taste. For the dried chickpea version, look out for the garlic cloves and rosemary sprig; remove and discard them. Divide among individual serving bowls, and drizzle each serving with olive oil. Serve while distributing additional cheese to the table.