Pasta and Ceci
Pasta and chick peas is an affordable and easy dish that we call upon often when we need a quick meal. I love this dish with sausage but it is equally delicious without meat and makes a great vegetarian option. You can really go all out and make it with dried beans that you soak over night, but we must confess that we use the canned ones instead. It’s much more convenient and you can easily keep canned chick peas on hand to make at a moment’s notice. That is part of the beauty of this meal after all. I’ve made several variations on this dish – you can experiment with things like lightly pulsing the chick peas in the food processor first to adding pancetta. Of course you can even use prosciutto if you happen to have some on hand after a splurge at your favorite specialty shop like we discuss in Live Globally…Buy Locally But the tried and true dish just calls for chick peas and your favorite short pasta. We recommend shells, orecchiette or gnocchi* because the beans fall easily inside the pasta trapping the juice and giving you compete flavor in every bite. If you don’t have those on hand, some other great options are elbows which fit perfectly around the chick peas, or our new favorite for this dish, campanelle (pictured above). The name means ‘bells’ and they’re just fun!
* Gnocchi dried pasta is also a great (albeit misleadingly named) pasta for this dish. It’s a short dry pasta that is inspired by the shape of actual hand-rolled potato gnocchi. We think these pasta versions look more like a conch shell, but Barilla didn’t ask for our input.
- 1 lb short pasta
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 – 1 large white onion
- 1 can chick peas, about 15 oz (include the water + about 1/2 can additional water)
- 1-2 links hot or sweet Italian sausage (optional)
- 3/4 cup of white wine
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
- Olive oil to coat skillet
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
- Once the pasta water has come to a roaring boil, drop in the pasta and stir.
- In the meantime, remove sausage from casing and set aside (if using).
- While the pasta is cooking, generously coat a large skillet or sauce pot with olive oil and add a bay leaf.
- Heat the oil and then saute the onions until translucent over low to medium heat with the bay leaf.
- Season with salt and black pepper and crushed red pepper (if using).
- Add the sausage (if using) and raise the heat to medium. Saute until sausage colors.
- Add the wine and let it simmer until wine cooks off (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add the chick peas with the water from their jar and let simmer until the chick peas soften slightly (depending on your preference) about 10 minutes.
- Fill the chick peas can or jar about half way with water and add to the pan.
- Once the pasta is done, reserve about a cup of pasta water this is more than you will need) and set aside.
- Strain the pasta and place into serving bowl then cover with chick pea sauce and mix until the sauce is incorporated into the pasta.
- Add a splash of the reserved cooking water as needed to help coat the pasta.
- Alternately you can add the pasta right to the skillet with the chick pea sauce and then add pasta water as needed.
- Remove from heat and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil for added flavor.
- Serve immediately.