"The first time i tried pasta e ceci, i fell utterly in love and couldn’t stop making it for months. The flavor and texture are supremely comforting and, at the risk of offending our Italian cousins, I liken its soothing qualities to a grown-up beans on toast. Depending on where you are in Italy, pasta e ceci changes drastically from region to region. In the poorer south, it appears in its purest form, made with eggless semolina pasta, chickpeas and maybe a little tomato. Whereas, as you move north into the wealthier and more abundant regions, anchovies begin to appear in the soffritto base, with rich egg pasta and generous chunks of pancetta. I love it in all these forms, particularly with good pancetta, and depending on the weather, what’s in the fridge, I often throw in some of these luxurious extras. But for this book I thought I’d show you just how good it can be in its humblest form. My only request is that you use good-quality cooked chickpeas."
Excerpted from The Farm Table Text copyright © 2023 by Julius Roberts. Photographs copyright © 2023 by Elena Heatherwick, except as noted. Illustrations copyright © 2023 by Jethro Buck. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.
3 cloves of garlic
1 yellow onion
4 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of red pepper flakes
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp tomato paste (or 1 tsp Sun-Dried Tomato Powder + 2 tsp water)
1 x 14 oz/400g can of whole, peeled tomatoes
1 x 24 oz/700g can of quality chickpeas
12 oz/350g small soup-type pasta (ditali, macaroni, etc.)
Finely dice the garlic, onion, leek and carrot. Pour the oil into a wide heavy-bottomed pan, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, whole rosemary sprigs and bay, and turn the heat on. This allows the garlic, etc. to slowly infuse the oil without burning while the pot heats up. After a few minutes, the garlic will be sizzling. Before it begins to color, add the onion, leek and carrot with a generous pinch of salt. Cook right down until sweet and tender, about 10 minutes, then add the tomato paste. Mix this through and cook out the paste for a few minutes.
Using scissors, chop the tomatoes inside the can to break them up as best you can. I prefer to use whole tomatoes, not diced, because their flavor is so much better. Pour these into the pot, then rinse out the can with a splash of water and pour that tomatoey water into the pot too. Bring to a gentle simmer, pour in half the chickpeas and cook for 15 minutes so the flavors can get to know each other. Pour the other half into a mortar and pestle or food processor and mash into a paste, then add to the pot.
Cook your pasta until it’s a few minutes off ready, then add to the pot with a splash of the starchy water to finish cooking. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Spoon into bowls and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.