Pasta e ceci alla romana from Lazio
This is definitely a dish that is eaten regularly in Italy in winter, and it is from what is known as la cucina povera (poor cuisine) because the ingredients are so cheap and readily available.
The homely roots of this pasta dish don’t make it any less tasty than some of the more sophisticated meals found in Italian restaurants, and every trattoria, mamma and nonna on the peninsula seems to have their own way of making it and could argue until the cows come home about which version is best.
I personally prefer the Roman version because it uses rosemary, which I love. I also add a little chilli however, something not in the original recipe but which gives it a little extra kick.
You will need (serves 2)
2 cans of chick peas in water (you can use dried, but I’m too lazy to soak them)
A clove of garlic
One red chilli
A handful of rosemary
Pecorino Romano grated cheese (optional)
First heat the oil in a pan then add the garlic and the chilli and fry gently. When the garlic begins to color, add the rosemary, and after a few seconds, the entire contents (water included) of both tins of chick peas. Bring to the boil then leave to simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime prepare the pan for the pasta – bring the water to the boil first, then add salt (about a heaped teaspoonful), then add the pasta and stir after about 30 seconds to stop the pasta from sticking. Sorry if this bit seems obvious, but not everyone knows how the Italians do it and do all kinds of things like add oil, or put the pasta in the cold water before bringing it to the boil 🙂
When your pasta is almost cooked (I used pappardelle, but mafalde are best) grab a fork and squich the heck out of your chick peas. Some people like to leave about half of them whole, I prefer to squash almost all of them to make a sort of creamy paste.
Drain the pasta al dente, chuck it in with the chick pea paste on a low heat, and add a good sprinkling of pecorino romano (or parmesan, your call) while stirring. Once all your pasta is covered, you are ready to serve a traditional winter pasta dish… with a glass of hearty red, if I may suggest!