Discovering a Roman Recipe, Pasta e Ceci
As much as I love to cook, I really love nice and quick recipes. I tend to lean towards cooking Italian, in part because I love the variety that the style offers. I was looking for a new staple dinner to try out and came upon Smitten Kitchen’s quick pasta and chickpea recipe. The recipe looked super simple and easy to modify, so I was eager to give it a shot.
As it turns out, the recipe I stumbled upon is a staple Roman dish. I never thought to pair pasta with chickpeas in such a way, but can really see why it is such a fundamental Italian recipe.
Chickpeas and Pasta Cover All the Cravings
Chickpeas are a staple of Italian cooking, along side the all important olive oil, canned tomatoes, and cooking wine. You’ll find them in everything from side dishes and simple snacks, to main courses, as with the pasta e ceci.
The chickpeas are what make this dish so special for me: it means that pasta e ceci provides protein while satisfying a pasta craving.
There are a mere five ingredients, not counting salt and pepper, and lots of room to play around. I decided to add kale and cherry tomatoes (a personal favorite) to the recipe, to supplement the tomato paste base. There are plenty of other greens that would suit the dish, as well, including escarole.
Pasta e Ceci Ingredients & Process
Like I said, there are only five main ingredients for this pasta. Plus, chances are, you will have the ingredients at home with you when the craving hits! I almost always keep Campari or cherry tomatoes around, so the recipe was meant to be.
Pasta e Ceci
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2-4 cloves of white garlic
- 15 oz can of chickpeas (or 1.5 cups rehydrated chickpeas)
- 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 package of cherry tomatoes
- 1 bunch of kale
- 1/2 small white onion
- 2 cups dry pasta of your choice (i used ditalini and it turned out really well)
- Chop the garlic and dice 1/2 of a small white onion. Add the chopped garlic and onion to a deep pot with olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste. Set the burner to medium to low heat until the garlic and onions begin to simmer.
- While the garlic, onion, and tomato paste start to heat up, halve the cherry tomatoes. Add them to the pot and incorporate them with the other ingredients.
- Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas, then add them to the pot.
- De-stem the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Add the kale to the pot and incorporate all of the ingredients. Cover with the pot's lid to help steam the kale.
- Measure out your pasta and add it to the pot before adding the water. Mix everything together.
- Add approximately 1 cup of water to the pot and raise the temperature to high. Bright the pot to a boil. (This is not an exact science. Some recipes seemed to make more of a soup whereas others were dryer, so it seems pretty flexible.)
- Let everything boil for approximately 8 minutes. The beans and pasta will absorb most (if not all) of the water. If the pasta isn't quite done, add some more water and let it boil for a few more minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and then you're ready to plate! Top with cheese of your choice, if desired.
The Finished Product
I topped the pasta with an Italian favorite — a sharp shredded parmesan. In another serving, I used a shredded mozzarella blend that was also pretty great.
Besides being easy and light, this pasta heated up really well. I’ll definitely be adding this to my meal prep rotation! Next time, I might try adding rainbow chard or brussels sprouts.