Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)

I love Italian recipes that show the diversity of the cuisine.  I think many people think of Italian cuisine as the stuff you get at the Olive Garden.  That’s all good stuff.  No argument from me there.  However, America’s Test Kitchen posted their version of Pasta e Ceci or pasta with chickpeas.  Chickpeas are more Italian than you might think. They use them in many different recipes.  I had never heard of this recipe before.  It’s actually a pretty healthy recipe.  The main protein is chickpeas.  There are also vegetables and heart-healthy olive oil.  Most of the ingredients you may already have on hand.  I like a dish that doesn’t require a bunch of ingredients I don’t have.  That being said, the calories are a bit high and the vitamins and protein need a boost.  However, I don’t see that I will need to make too many changes.  Here are the original stats:

Here’s what I changed:

  • I raised the servings from 4 to 10 to lower the calories.
  • I replaced the tomatoes with pumpkin puree to increase the vitamin A.
  • I deleted the added salt to reduce the sodium.
  • I replace the chickpeas with a low sodium variety.
  • I deleted the pancetta am using liquid smoke and smoke paprika to add the smokiness back to the dish.
  • I added tofu to add protein.
  • I added red bell pepper to up the vitamin C.

Here are the final stats:

Here is the final recipe:


Pasta e Ceci

Serves 10

  • 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 small celery rib, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 onion, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 (14-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 8 ounces chopped red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (do not drain)
  • 1.5 (14 ounce) packages of extra-firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups water
  • pepper
  • 8 ounces (1 ½ cups) ditalini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (½ cup)

1.  Add carrot, celery, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses. Add onion, red bell pepper, paprika and liquid smoke and pulse until vegetables are cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch pieces, 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer mixture to large Dutch oven.

2. Add oil to vegetable mixture in Dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fond begins to form on bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. Add anchovy, pepper flakes, and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in pumpkin, chickpeas and their liquid, tofu and water, bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, parsley, cheese and season with pepper to taste. 


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