Allow me to preface this post with a well known fact: I am an eater, not a cook. It’s not that I don’t like cooking or that I am particularly bad at it. It’s just that most days, I work during market hours and/or I end up eating so much cheese and pork while I’m out and about, that when I come home I just need to detox. I’m a big fan of simple legume or pasta dishes and I hoard packages of both in my pantry.
Last week, I decided to put the two together and made a light, healthy, and (I can hardly write this) vegan dish. I adapted a recipe for pasta e cicerchie al peperoncino I found on the Italian blog Una Finestra di Fronte written by Milena Stasi.
I used cicerchie (ancient legumes similar to chick peas) I picked up at the Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo and Pastificio dei Campi‘s new shape, mista corta di Gragnano. Giuseppe di Martino, close friend, pasta addict and owner of PdC, described to me the cultural history of the new shape when we met for coffee recently. He can do a much better job of explaining it than I can and I invite him to comment below.
Pasta corta con cicerchie al peperoncino (serves 4)
250g/half a pound Pastificio dei Campi’s mista corta di Gragnano
250g/half a pound cicerchie
dried red chili peppers
extra virgin olive oil
Soak the cicerchie for 24 hours, drain, and wash them well. Place them in a pot of fresh water, bring to a boil and simmer over a low heat until tender. Some recipes I encountered suggest sauteing them in olive oil for a few minutes before adding water. In a deep pan, saute two whole garlic cloves in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add chili peppers (I added 3 small ones that I had crushed, but the number can vary depending on the amount of heat you are going for) and cook for a minute or two on low heat. Turn off heat and remove garlic. Add pasta to boiling salted water. Once oil has cooled, add some of the pasta water then return pan to a low heat. I added half a ladle full and continued to add the starchy water in small amounts as it reduced. Cook the pasta until very very al dente, drain, and reserve some of the water. Unite pasta and cicerchie in the pan with oil and chili peppers and finish cooking, adding pasta water as needed. Serve with a side of chili pepper and a bit of oil drizzled over each bowl.