I’ve snubbed this dish for many years, but now that I’ve cooked it again, I find it delicious. I don’t consider myself a picky eater, but mushy pasta has always been in the category of “never!” This is such a firm rule for me that I’ve never ordered a pasta dish in a restaurant outside of Italy, because I’m too afraid that I’ll get overcooked pasta. I’d rather eat something else than find myself staring in disappointment at a dish I can’t eat.
Because the texture of overcooked pasta scares me so much, I have many memories of make undercooked pasta, that despite the complaint of people around the table, I found quite good. My husband has gotten used to what he calls my ‘crunchy’ pasta. It took a while but now I’ve converted him too, and when he cooks pasta for himself it’s very ‘al dente’.
The problem with pasta and ceci (chickpeas) or pasta and fagioli (beans) is that it is a dish somewhere between a soup, and a pasta dish with a lot of sauce. In my personal opinion -I know that other Italians might disagree since we all have strong opinion around food and how it should be prepared- pasta and ceci should have the consistency of a thick soup. Not as watery as a Minestrone or vegetable soup for example.
I can eat leftover soup, but I can’t eat leftover soup with pasta in it, because at that point the pasta will be way more then mushy. So what I need to do is to make just the right amount of pasta, eat it all and avoid any leftovers!
This dish is so comforting that I could eat it almost every day, especially during fall and winter.
Pasta and ceci in Italy could be the equivalent of rice and beans in South America.
You can play around with herbs, but chickpea and rosemary is a combination that stands out from the crowd.
I’d discourage you from using canned chickpeas. This is a simple dish and you want to use the best quality ingredients you can get to maximize the flavor. Try to buy dried chickpeas, soak them overnight and boil it for an hour or more until tender. This way the dish will have a great flavor and you can use the chickpea water to dilute the soup.
Usually the shape of pasta most commonly used is ditalini but you can adapt it with any short pasta you have at home. I used whole wheat shells.