Pasta e Ceci

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

One of the things that I love about rustic Italian cooking is the simplicity of the ingredients and the robustness of flavors. My husband, son and I were in Italy this past November and we had some fantastic dishes, some of which had very few ingredients but tons of flavor. I've been obsessing a bit about Italian food since I got home, although I haven't really had the time to get out my pasta maker. Now that the holidays are past us, I'm going to make it a regular thing to do.
For those of you who would pass over this recipe because it has anchovies in it: don't. I don't like fish and my mother says I always spit it out as a baby. I keep trying and trying it, hoping that somehow I will finally like it, you know, the way you grow into flavors. Happily for my family I no longer spit it out, but I think it's safe to say that at my age, it's never going to taste good to me. However, anchovies have a way of melting into a sauce, adding a depth of flavor without actually making the dish fishy tasting. I have to say, I tasted the sauce half-way through cooking and I thought oh no! I should have added half the number of anchovies that the recipe calls for, but by the time it was all done, the sauce was delicious and I couldn't taste (or smell) the anchovies at all.
I think the next time I make this, I might mash the chickpeas a bit, so that they are more integral to the sauce, rather than just in it. Needless to say, in Toronto in the month of January there are no ripened tomatoes to be found, so I used some of my home canned tomatoes and they worked perfectly. This recipe is from the website Food52.

Prep time: 10 minutes 

Total time: 40 minutes 

Yield: 4 servings

Pasta e Ceci


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 fillets anchovies
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 3 healthy sprigs rosemary
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 4 cups chicken broth or water
  • Small dried pasta, like farfalle (for 4)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Grated parmesan
Cooking directions
  1. Dice garlic. Cut up anchovies, roughly chop tomatoes.
  2. Over medium heat, saute garlic, anchovies and two rosemary sprigs until the anchovies are melted.
  3. Add chopped tomatoes. Sautee 10 or 15 minutes, till the tomatoes are fully cooked. Salt as needed.
  4. Increase heat and add can of chickpeas, with water in the can, and a few cups of boiling water or heated chicken broth. Add last sprig of rosemary. Bring to soft boil.
  5. Add pasta. The liquid should just barely cover the pasta. Reduce heat to healthy simmer and cook till one minute less than the package recommends. Add water or broth if needed. But remember, the broth should be thick, so add the least amount of liquid possible that still allows the pasta to cook. When the pasta is done, spoon into bowls. Add grated parmesan, ground pepper and a few drops of good olive oil.