April 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm
by Michael Tyrrell
As a rule, the simplest pastas are the best. Pasta e Ceci ( pasta and chickpeas) is a perfect example of cucina povera ( peasant food) – simple, inexpensive and very satisfying. Usually I use a mix of whatever opened boxes of dry pasta are laying around my pantry. I recently saw a recipe for this that used a shape I wasn’t familiar with, Pantacce Toscane. It looked like broken up pieces of curly-edged lasagna noodles, so that is what was used in this version.
Pasta e Ceci
1/2 pound curly lasagna noodles, broken up into approximately 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves chopped garlic
1 can(15 ounces) chickpeas, not drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
chopped flat leaf parsley, optional
1) Cook the lasagna pieces in a large pot of salted water for at least 2 minutes longer than the directions on the package (I had Ronzoni and cooked for 12 minutes). Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain.
2) In the same pot add the oil and garlic. Over medium-high heat, cook about 1 minute or until the garlic is golden. Add chickpeas with their liquid; cook about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are heated through. Add some pasta water so garlic doesn’t burn.
3) Stir in the cooked noodles, balance of pasta water, salt and pepper. Cook about 1 minute, stirring continuously.
4) Stir in the cheese and check seasoning. Freshly ground black pepper is key here. I probably used a teaspoon at least. Fresh parsley is nice but not necessary.
The pasta still was still very al dente. We ate this with a tossed salad and sauteed rainbow chard and couldn’t have been happier.
Michael Tyrrell is associate food editor at Family Circle magazine.