Have a look at that! 👆👆👆 😍😍😍
Oh my I love love love this dish. I have plenty of favorite foods and ingredients I know, but this dish really is my FAVORITE pasta dish! The flavours and smell brings back a whole lot of nostalgia for me. That 6th sense of mine that ties my heart to a meal because of the memories it brings of my childhood and will hopefully continue to make for my children. Growing up in an Italian family, I have had countless pasta meals, lunch or dinner, my mum admits to making it A LOT for us growing up. There is something about tucking into a delicious, warm, flavoursome pasta dish that makes everyone at the table go silent for a minute while they take their first bite and then breathe out a satisfied sigh, taking in a quick second mouthful as they inhale their next breath. This Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with chickpeas) pulls on all my heart-strings when we talk about tradition, food and family. Whilst it is my own recipe, this is very much a typical Italian meal whereby the recipe is slightly different in ingredients and methodology according to family or regional preferences. I hope one day, when my boys are older, this meal is one of those that remind them of wonderful family mealtimes we shared with loved ones, just as it does for me.
I know you must be thinking that pre-soaking the dried chickpeas the night before is a hassle to remember, but I truly feel that if you can do this, then you should. Simply place dried chickpeas in a large bowl, cover them with cold water by several inches to allow for expansion and let it sit over night. I usually do this just before I go to bed, change the water once during the day and then drain it off as I prepare them for dinner. There are a few reasons for soaking chickpeas,
- better flavour
- more control over the texture
- less sodium & additives from canned storing liquid
- most importantly…Legumes contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, that can cause gut irritation, therefore soaking makes them much easier to digest and reduces tummy issues that commonly occur after eating them.
If you find you only have an hour or so before dinner to prepare, you can use a fast soak method. To do this, you add the chickpeas to a pot, cover with water by about two inches and bring to the boil. Boil for five minutes, then remove from the heat and let it sit in the water for an hour before rinsing it off. Remove any foam that rises to the top. Of course this dish works with canned chickpeas as well! I have done so myself in times of need. Simply drain and rinse two cans of cooked chickpeas and add them at the same point in the recipe. As they are already cooked you can reduce the stock volume by half and let it simmer (lid off) for five minutes to allow the chickpeas to soak up the flavours of the base, before adding the pasta and extra water.
Three other very important steps to maximise flavour in each bite are,
- While this dish isn’t really a soup, it still is best eaten with a spoon!
- As I mentioned, the ‘tradition’ of this dish varies between families so feel free to pick your pasta of choice. Just make sure you choose one that has a hole through the middle and is similar in size to the chickpeas. This way the sauce and chickpeas can get trapped inside.
- Use a good quality olive oil to drizzle over the top of the cooked dish. It’s essential to getting all the flavours just right!
I hope you love this dish as much as my family does! Buon Appetito! xxx
- 1 medium carrot - finely chopped
- 1 celery stick - finely chopped
- 1 onion - finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves - peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 50g sliced pancetta - diced
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 tbsp rosemary - chopped
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 cups dried chick peas - soaked overnight
- 1 tin diced tomatoes
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 300g small pasta tubes/shells
- 500ml boiling water
- salt and pepper to season
- parmesan cheese & extra virgin olive oil to serve
- * Soak the dried chick peas over night before cooking! (see explanation above) *
- In a large pot, heat up the olive oil and add the onion. Fry on a medium heat without burning, for a few minutes, or until turning translucent. If they start to brown too soon, add a little splash of water.
- Add the chopped garlic, carrot and celery and fry for another 2 minutes until they start to soften.
- Add the pancetta, rosemary and thyme leaves, giving it all a good mix, sauteing for another 1-2 minutes. All the while making sure the mixture is not burning.
- Add in the white wine and let it all simmer until the wine has reduced by half.
- Pour in the chick peas, bay leaf and chicken stock, mixing until well combined. Let the mixture lightly bubble away until the chickpeas are tender, this could take 1.5 - 2 hours. Dont let them go soggy however. Add small amounts of water to cover the chickpeas if you see it drying up.
- Once you are happy with their texture, add the tin of diced tomatoes and mix.
- Scoop out about 2 cups of the mixture and blend it in a processor until thick. Return this soupy mixture back into the pot.
- Add 500ml of boiling water and the pasta shapes to the chickpea soup. Season with a good amount of salt and pepper. The entire contents of the pot should be covered by liquid by at least 2cm. Add more boiling water if it evaporated while the chick peas were cooking. Stirring often, let the pasta boil away until cooked (check packet cooking time). The mixture should not be soupy, but rather creamy and loose when tossed around. Watch the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot during cooking.
- Serve the dish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, ground black pepper and a generous amount of fresh parmesan or pecorino cheese.