A special one-pot recipe, straight from la cucina povera, pasta and chickpeas (more famously known as pasta e ceci) is a classic comfort food dish that is so easy to make. The recipe is flexible (and vegetarian!,) relying heavily on what you have available in your kitchen.
That’s the true beauty of la cucina povera – it’s always about cooking with what you have. That’s why this recipe isn’t just pasta e ceci, it’s pasta e ceci E patate! I aspired to make pasta and chickpeas, which I had most of the ingredients for. But, I added more potatoes than usual since they were all wrinkly and basically on their last day.
The result is a velvetier version of pasta and chickpeas that is just absolutely delicious. It warms the belly, soothes the soul, and sends you right to a nonna’s house, somewhere in the mountains outside of Rome.
The Origins of Pasta and Chickpeas (Pasta e Ceci)
There are many variations of pasta e ceci, pasta e patate, and pasta e fagioli in Italy, most specifically in central-Southern Italy. It is a perfect example of la cucina povera (peasant/ poor cooking.) Beans, potatoes, and pasta were affordable ingredients for farmers and the working class. These are also plant-based ingredients with lots of fiber, protein, and nutrients, keeping folks full through long days of work.
And, any of these pasta and beans (or potatoes) recipes require only ONE POT for cooking! It’s no wonder these recipes were so common and popular – they made it easy to cook up one large meal for a family that will fill everyone’s bellies!
Ingredients for Pasta and Chickpeas (Pasta e Ceci)
Like I said – this recipe is flexible. Don’t let things go to waste in your fridge or pantry because you want to make this recipe perfectly. Try your best to modify the ingredients to what you have first, before hitting the store!
- 1 15 oz can of chickpeas (or fresh chickpeas)
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed with the back of a knife (or your hand!)
- 3 glugs of extra virgin olive oil
- Half medium sized onion diced*
- One whole carrot, diced*
- 1 stalk of celery, diced*
- 1 potato, diced (for this recipe, I used 5 small potatoes)
- A big tablespoon of tomato paste (alternatively, one big juicy tomato)
- Palmful of fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, or basil are best)
- Parmigiano rind
- Enough water or broth to cover ingredients (see recipe for further explanation)
- Half cup of white wine (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Half a box of short pasta (or long pasta, broken up)
- Parm and EVOO for garnish
*point here is to make a soffrito. But, if you don’t have all these ingredients, don’t worry. The most important one is the onion. Make sure you have the onion, and you’re as good as gold.
How to Make Pasta and Chickpeas (Pasta e Ceci)
Add a generous amount of EVOO to a wide medium-sized pot.
Toss in garlic and soffrito. Cook until soft and translucent over medium heeat.
Toss in potatoes
Stir everything together while adding in some white wine as it gets sticky and starchy.
Add in tomato paste, herbs, and chickpeas.
Cover everything with water or stock.
Add in your parm rind, then bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Remove herbs, parmigiano rind, and about a cup of chickpeas and potatoes before blending.
Save only the chickpeas and potatoes.
Blend the rest of the mixture with an immersion blender (or regular blender.)
Make sure everything is velvety.
Add in about a cup of water and bring to a boil.
Toss in pasta and cook until al dente. If you didn’t use stock before, I suggest adding salt here.
Taste your pasta and chickpeas
Add black pepper and/or parmigiano to taste.