Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
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Don’t be fooled by its deceptively simple name: this pasta is awesome. It’s flavorful, wholesome, inexpensive, simple yet elegant, and great for vegetarians or the Meatless Monday types. Use whatever pasta you have on hand, but I love the little shells that catch the vegetable sauce. The last step – sautéeing garlic and rosemary in olive oil to drizzle over the top – is what takes this simple meal over the top. The smell alone is reason enough to do this final step, but the taste is great, too: the crispy rosemary is an awesome contrast to the soft chick peas. Top with generous shavings of parmesan or pecorino romano.
Some readers have asked what I think about the safety of canned goods (BPA and all), and while I generally avoid canned versions for this reason, I have never had luck with the funny little skins on dried chick peas and always buy those canned.
Pasta E Ceci
Slightly modified from Bon Appétit
1 medium onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, 4 whole, 2 chopped
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 T. tomato paste*
2 15 oz. cans chick peas, rinsed
1 lb. small pasta of your choice (shell, elbow macaroni, ditalini, etc)
a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed
squeeze of lemon
shaved parmesan or pecorino romano to top
water as needed (or stock, if you prefer)
*I’ve used tomato sauce (twice as much) with success. I’ve also doubled the tomato paste and like that a lot for more of a tomato flavor. Use what you have on hand.
1. Pulse onion, carrot, celery, and whole garlic cloves in a food processor. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor and set aside.
2. Heat 1/8 c. oil in a big skillet over medium; add veggie mixture and season with salt. Cook for about 8 minutes, scraping the pan often. Stir in tomato paste and a quarter of a cup or so of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated.
3. Add chickpeas and additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, depending on how dry the mixture looks. Simmer for a few minutes.
4. Transfer 1 c. chickpea mixture to the food processor, puree until smooth, and stir back into the sauce.
5. Prepare pasta according to directions on package, reserving some of the liquid.
6. Stir the pasta and 1/2 c. pasta liquid into the sauce, adding more liquid as necessary. The sauce should coat the pasta well.
7. Heat remaining oil in a small skillet. Add chopped garlic and rosemary to the oil. Cook until the rosemary crisps up and becomes fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Drizzle this over top of the plated pasta along with a squeeze of lemon.
8. Top with cheese. You can grate if you want, but I hate getting out the grated, and I like the width of shaved cheese better for this anyway. I find it easiest to shave the parmesan with a vegetable peeler.
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