I’m a creature of habit. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love lists and schedules and repetition and favorites and comfort. To that end, sometimes I find myself craving the same wonderful recipes over and over, relishing in their familiarity and knowing that I’ll love how they taste every time.
Recently, thanks to the inspiration of one of my favorite bloggers, Dana Treat, I made Jamie Oliver’s pasta e ceci recipe (it’s pasta and chickpeas). After I made it once, I became slightly addicted and proceeded to cook it once a week for about a month, then finally made myself stop because a) I didn’t want to wear it out and b) I knew there were other great recipes out there that I should try to make, too. In other words, this dish is amazing. It’s easy. It’s healthy. It requires a minimal amount of ingredients, all of which are inexpensive and easy to find. I gave this recipe to my mom and then my entire family raved about it. A week later my brothers both asked if my mom could make it again.
Why is it so good? I think, for me, the simplicity and earthiness make the dish exceptional. Celery, onion, garlic, rosemary, vegetable stock, chickpeas and small pasta of your choice stew together to create a creamy, rich soup (or pasta dish – it can be considered both) that tastes like it must contain cream or butter or something else that’s sinful, but it doesn’t. Half of the chickpeas are pureed to make the base of the sauce and the rest, which mingle sturdily with the rest of the ingredients, provide toothsome texture and rustic bite to the soup, which is otherwise mostly soft.
Fresh basil ribbons and a generous pinch of both cracked pepper and finishing salt round things off nicely in the serving bowls. You could also drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil or shave some parmeggiano-reggiano over the top if you’re feeling frisky.
Pasta e Ceci
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
1 small onion, peeled & minced
1 stick of celery, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, peeled & minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
extra virgin olive oil
1 spring of rosemary, leaves removed and chopped finely
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
5 oz. small pasta
fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons (for garnish)
1. Heat a large skillet to medium and coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil. Once the pan is hot, sautee the onion and celery until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes.
2. Add the chickpeas and stock to your skillet and let the mixture come to a boil Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the chickpeas are heated through.
3. Remove half of the chickpea mixture and puree it in a blender or a food processor until smooth. Once pureed, add them back to the skillet along with the pasta and cook for 7-8 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
4. If the soup needs more liquid, add more stock in small increments until it reaches the desired consistency. If it doesn’t, just season the soup with salt and pepper and serve warm in bowls.
5. Once in bowls, finish the soup with salt and a pinch of fresh cracked black pepper in addition to some basil leaf ribbons.