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?
Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
Adapted from Jamie’s Italy
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
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.