The Short List

June 13, 2010

Most people who cook have some kind of short list.  Those go-to recipes that require very little thought, contain ingredients you either have on hand or that can be easily procured from any grocery store, and that taste delicious.  Those are precious recipes indeed and I need a few more in my arsenal.

For now, this Jamie Oliver dish is at the top of my short list which, if I haven’t made it clear, is very short.  No matter – I love this recipe.  I always have onions and garlic plus many cans of chickpeas, almost always have celery, and I have rosemary growing in my yard.  Give me half an hour and I will give you something healthy, appealing to most people, satisfying, and very tasty.  It is also a very forgiving dish so you can either eat it right away or allow it to sit for a bit with the flavor only improving.

The method is simple.  The onions and garlic get sautéed together in a bit of olive oil along with the rosemary, which immediately makes your kitchen smell wonderful.  The chickpeas are next in the pot along with the broth and after those have cooked for a bit, half of the chickpeas are scooped out and reserved while the goodness in the pot gets a quick purée with an immersion blender.  After everything is reunited in the pot, in goes the pasta.  As soon it is tender, you are ready for dinner.  Add some fresh herbs on top (which I always seem to have some remnant of in my crisper drawer) and you have a rich and creamy tasting (but very healthy) meal.

I change this up a bit from the original recipe by adding some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, and I also add more pasta and broth.  I always seem to need even more broth as the cooking process happens and you can add even more than that if you want the dish to be more saucy.  I don’t think it is possible to screw up this dish, so do what you like.  You will see my changes in the recipe below.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a food processor instead – just be careful with the hot stuff!

What is on your short list?

One Year Ago: Chilled Avocado Soup
Two Years Ago: Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies

Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
Adapted from Jamie’s Italy
Serves 4

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 14-oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegetable stock
5 ounces ditalini or other small pasta (such as orzo)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small handful of fresh basil or parsley leaves, picked and torn

Place a large skillet over medium heat and then pour in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom.  Add the onion and celery and sauté just until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes.  Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the chickpeas and the stock.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and allow to cook just until the chickpeas are heated through, about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove half of the chickpeas and set them aside.

Purée the soup in the pan with a handheld immersion blender.  Add the reserved whole chickpeas and the pasta, season the soup with salt and pepper, and simmer gently until the chickpeas are very tender and the pasta is cooked, about 10  minutes.  Add more liquid as necessary.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with torn basil or parsley.


  1. I think this will be on my short list too. I always add extra red pepper flakes because my hubs like a little kick. Great dish!

    Comment by Maria — June 13, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

  2. this sounds delicious. i love chick peas.

    Comment by Noemi — June 13, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  3. This looks great, Dana. Beans are on my short list too– cannelini beans with herbs from my garden, shallots if i have ’em and a sprinking of truffle oil or salt. Great in any season.

    Comment by brooke — June 13, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  4. I think risotto or orzotto is one of the foods on my short list. Give me a half hour and I can whip it up. It helps that you can basically incorporate any veggies into it!

    This is definitely a good short list dish as well. The longest part is waiting for the water to boil!

    Comment by Joanne — June 13, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  5. Yum. Pasta Puttanesca is on my short list–canned tomatoes, lots of olive oil, Kalamata olives, onions and garlic, minced anchovies, capers, all in a tangle of spaghetti. Chopped parsley on top.

    Comment by The Leftoverist — June 14, 2010 @ 5:05 am

  6. Dana, I love your addition of red pepper flakes here! A great recipe for a short list indeed.

    Comment by Viviane Bauquet Farre / food & style — June 14, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

  7. Love chickpeas in any dish. Nice recipe and gotta try it sometime.

    Comment by Shriya — June 14, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  8. You are right, this is a great go-to recipe and I have all the ingredients to hand except the rosemary, but I am sure I could add another fresh herb and it would still be lovely. I think I may make this tonight actually.

    Comment by Jacqueline — June 14, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

  9. As the lucky guest who devoured this dish I can attest to it’s yumminess. It will make my short list too. Thank you Dana!

    Comment by Michelle — June 14, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  10. What a lovely dish that is…

    I am wondering, though – when you start cooking, the proportion of liquid versus pasta would be similar to when you start cooking rice? I am not at home, so it’s kind of tricky to imagine the volumes you described

    the final dish seems almost the consistency of a risotto – is that right?

    I want to make it tonight, I hope I have all the ingredients at home

    Comment by SallyBR — June 14, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

  11. My shortlist is whatever is in my garden + kalamata olives or feta cheese and a jar of fire roasted red peppers + pasta. I will forever be a pasta addict!

    Comment by Lara Alexander — June 14, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  12. my short list has several pasta dishes too, this one looks amazing!

    Comment by Veggie Belly — June 15, 2010 @ 12:53 am

  13. DONE!

    Delicious dish, Dana! I made it with very little liquid at the end, the processed garbanzo beans turned almost like a sauce for the pasta

    absolutely delicious, will definitely be a regular at our home!

    thank you!

    Comment by SallyBR — June 15, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

  14. pasta is on my short list, a lot of pasta dishes. to be honest i have yet to try chickpeas with pasta. weird right?

    Comment by vanillasugar — June 15, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  15. great recipe…one of my favorites

    Comment by The Food Hunter — June 16, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

  16. I was looking for a recipe to make with what my parents’ have on hand–I’m visiting for the weekend. This one was perfect with the substitution of thyme for rosemary. I also added a bit of fresh lemon juice and some parmesan to the end product. This recipe is definitely on my short list now! I hope to make it as written (with rosemary) when I get back to my own garden. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    Comment by Emily — June 20, 2010 @ 3:32 am

  17. I love that some of the chickpeas are pureed to make sauce! I don’t have a short list of healthy recipes. I only have a short list of unhealthy but delicious recipes that I grew up with like mac & cheese, baked spaghetti and baked perogies. I rarely make those now though.

    Comment by Ashley — June 22, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

  18. […] 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 […]

    Pingback by Truffle Honey » And dinner is… — January 8, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

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