Over the winter, I fell in love (madly, deeply, etc.) with pasta e ceci — a stewy Italian pasta thickened with mashed chickpeas and flavored with woody rosemary, lightly caramelized tomato paste and a splash of wine.
On those dark and snowy nights, there was something innately comforting about raiding my pantry for a few cans of beans and a box of delicate pasta (like ditalini or tiny orecchiette) and feeling like I was halfway to a really hearty, one-pot vegan meal.
Related: The food diary of a “weekday vegan”
Now that spring has officially sprung, I don’t want to give up that convenience. However, I do want something that feels a little more seasonally appropriate, packed with acid and herbiness — my two go-to flavors this time of year.
That’s where this pasta e ceci-inspired spring chickpea pasta comes into play. I swap the tomato paste for umami-packed white miso and a heap of lemon zest. I trade the rosemary for sprigs of fresh dill and scallions. In addition to chickpeas, I toss in some frozen green peas for color and flavor.
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The technique is the same one used in the original dish. Half the chickpeas are stewed in stock — good boxed vegetable stock, in this case — and then mashed until the mixture becomes really creamy and coats the pasta beautifully (something that’s sometimes hard to achieve without the addition of dairy).
Relatedly, while many pasta e ceci recipes call for a sprinkle of parmesan at the end, I’m Team Toasted Breadcrumbs. The textural contrast is really appealing, and if you’re wanting to keep this recipe vegan, it’s the way to go.
Recipe: One-Pot Spring Chickpea Pasta
- 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 16-ounce box small pasta (See Cook’s Notes)
- 2 tablespoons white miso pasta
- 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 4 tablespoons dill, plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas
- 32 ounces (one box) vegetable stock
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat a glug of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once it starts to glisten, add the scallions, red pepper flakes and miso paste. Stir constantly for about 1 minute (until the miso paste starts to break apart), then add the wine.
- Allow the wine mixture to simmer while fully incorporating the miso, then reduce the heat to low. Stir occasionally as the mixture reduces by half. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Add one can of chickpeas and just enough stock to cover them. Bring to a simmer and allow the chickpeas to bubble and soften for about 2 minutes.
- At this point, you can mash the chickpeas against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. Or, using a slotted spoon, transfer the chickpeas to a small food processor. Blitz until they form a thick paste, then return to the pot.
- Add the remainder of the vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring until it becomes slightly thick. Add the pasta right to the pot and give it a good stir.
- When the pasta is just shy of al dente, add the lemon juice and zest, the remainder of the chickpeas, plus the dill and peas. Season with salt and pepper, then reduce the temperature to low. Give everything one more good stir, then place the lid on the pot and allow it to “steam” for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, let’s make the breadcrumbs. In a small pan, add the olive oil over medium heat, followed by the Panko breadcrumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Stir constantly, until the breadcrumbs take on a golden brown hue. (They burn pretty easily, so take them off the heat as soon as they look sufficiently “toasted.”)
- Check the pasta. Is it thick and glossy looking? If so, great. Take it off the heat. If it still looks a little too stew-like for your tastes, allow it to “steam” for another few minutes.
- When you’re ready to serve, divide among bowls and top with the toasted breadcrumbs and a little extra dill.
- Reach for the small pasta of your choice. Ditalini, orecchiette and orzo are all fine options.
- For the non-vegans in your family or friend group, feel free to serve some gorgeous grated parmesan cheese alongside this pasta dish. This isn’t a recipe that feels incomplete without meat, but thinly-sliced chicken sausage is a great addition for those who want some.
- Leftovers store beautifully for about a week in the refrigerator. They will, however, thicken over time. You can either reconstitute the leftover pasta to its original consistency by reheating it over the stove with some extra vegetable stock or simply enjoy what tastes almost like a new pasta dish, which is my personal choice.
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