From Rome with Love: Pasta e Ceci. It is a classic Roman fare, one that you still see on restaurant menus and family tables. Chickpeas, a soffritto of onion carrot and celery, plus the intense fragrance of garlic and rosemary are the main ingredients of this delectable dish.
- 150 g (2/3 cup) dried chickpeas (they will become 350 g – 2 cups soaked chickpeas)
- 2 liters of cold water + more if necessary
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 1 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
- 1 small carrot
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 celery stalk
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 small tomato on the vine (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 60 g ditalini pasta, lisci or rigati (with ridges)
- Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water for 24 hours, after that, drain and wash under cold running water and put in a terracotta cotta pot with 2 liters of water, the garlic clove, and the rosemary sprig.
- Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat, and simmer for 1½ – 2 hours or until the chickpeas are tender (mine took almost 3 hours). Keep in mind you need enough water to cook the pasta in, after, so top up with more water if necessary. Take out the rosemary sprig and garlic.
- At this point, you can puree part of the chickpeas, to get a creamier consistency. I pureed 1/4 of the chickpeas in a mixer with a touch of their cooking water. Then I put the puree back into the pot.
- While the chickpeas are cooking, mince the onion, carrot, and celery. You could also blend them in a food processor. Mince the tomato (if using).
- In a saute pan, heat the olive oil, add the mirepoix, the bay leaf, the minced tomato. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 -6 minutes. Add it to the pot with the chickpeas and stir.
- Check if there is enough water if not, top it up. Adjust with salt. Bring it to a boil, add the pasta and cook, stirring every now and then, until the pasta is al dente and the water has reduced (keep in mind that it will continue cooking and thickening when turned off).
- Let rest for a few minutes, then serve with a grinding of black pepper and a little more olive oil poured over the top.
If using dried chickpeas you need to start planning your Pasta e Ceci 24 hours prior, letting them soak in water and changing the water twice.
If using chickpeas in a can, use good quality, possibly organic, chickpeas and make a vegetable broth.