Show me your chickpea
As a young boy, I didn’t even want to hear about chickpeas. My mother was never cooking them because nobody had a desire for them and my grandmother was trying desperately sometimes to convince us to give it a try. The only form of them I had experienced was the toasted and salted version known as ‘stragalia’ in Greek. The latter are usually accompanied by a beer or eaten as a snack while lying on a beach. Nowadays, chickpeas are among my favourite foods. I eat them almost every week, either in a soup or salad, but also as the main ingredient of hummus.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to get from a friend some particularly small chickpeas, of a local variety that grows on the Greek island of Tinos.
I wanted this time to come up with a new dish. I took as a guide the classic Italian ‘pasta e ceci’ (pasta with chickpeas) recipe. Instead of using whole chickpeas, I blended them to a creamy sauce that I used to coat some fresh pasta. To spice up the dish, I added some aromatic, smoked paprika from the Greek north.
Pasta with chickpeas and smoked paprika
fresh orecchiette (you can use whatever short shape of fresh or dried pasta)
smoked paprika (you can use instead a spicy one)
extra virgin olive oil
- Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water and then let them cook smoothly in boiling water until they become relatively soft (the time depends on the variety and freshness of chickpeas).
(Remember to scoop out with a spoon most of the white foam that is formed at the beginning of boiling).
- When done, keep them aside and save also some of the boiling water.
- Slice a clove of garlic (per dish portion) and some fresh rosemary and sauté them on medium heat in a pan with a good amount of olive oil until the garlic starts getting brown. Remove from fire and set aside.
- Combine the chickpeas with the garlic-rosemary-olive oil mixture and blend them with a hand blender, using enough of the chickpea water to achieve a creamy consistency. Add also some extra olive oil and season with salt.
(Try to obtain a relatively liquid mixture because it can thicken up fast).
- Add the chickpea mix in a pan and heat it up slightly, while pasta is cooking in salted water. If the mix starts to thicken, add some pasta or chickpea water to keep it creamy.
- When pasta is ready, transfer it in the pan with the chickpea sauce and mix it together for a couple of minutes to coat the pasta nicely.
- Serve, sprinkle a good amount of smoked paprika and drizzle with olive oil.