Pasta Ceci is one of my all-time favorite vegetarian dishes, regardless of season. It’s simple, is suitable for vegetarians and vegans as well as omnivores, and is jam-packed with low-cost protein for those nights that you forget to defrost anything.
It is also, by some miracle, a great, adult-tasting food that kids are almost universally happy to eat. That’s right–this recipe promises you a brief respite from dinosaur-shaped nuggets made of chicken paste and breading! Can life get any better? And it tastes even better the next day, so don’t be afraid to double up and make enough for lots of leftovers.
Pasta “Ceci” is named as such because of its unusual sauce made of chickpeas, as “Ceci” is Italian for chickpea. What it ends up tasting like is a rich, savory sauce that is a cross between the freshness of tomato soup and the savory earthiness of your favorite herbs. You’ll find yourself experimenting with different types of beans and pastas trying to recreate the awesomness, but nothing works together quite as well as the chickpeas and ditalini. Italians obviously know what they’re doing when it comes to pasta and sauce combinations.
I hope you’ll love it as much as we do and make it a go-to dinner in your home.
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 med. yellow onion, 1/2″ dice
- 2 med. carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1/2 t dried rosemary
- 1/2 t dried thyme
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 15 oz cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- 2-3 C vegetable stock
- 1 lb ditalini (short, tubular pasta)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In large pan, saute the garlic, onions, carrots, and herbs in olive oil until the onions are translucent and fragrant.
- Add the tomato paste and cook an additional two minutes.
- Add 2 C stock and the herbs and simmer until the carrots are tender, adding more stock if it starts to get dry
- Strain the vegetables, reserving the cooking liquid
- In a blender or food processor, put the beans, vegetables, and a cup or so of the cooking liquid. Pulse to make a coarse puree, but don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with glue. Add enough cooking liquid to give it the texture of a loose marinara sauce.
- Save the rest of the cooking liquid for a soup or something. Return the bean/veg sauce to the original pot. Taste and add salt and pepper until flavorful.
- Meanwhile, cook your ditalini according to package instructions (giant pot of salty water, usually about 8 minutes). Use the lower end of the recommended time so they’re still al dente.
- Drain the pasta, and add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to make sure it’s all coated. Allow it to simmer on low heat so that the sauce thickens a little to a slightly thicker texture. Taste again for salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately, drizzling with homemade pesto if you wish for a splash of color and fresh herbaliciousness.
Another quick pulse of this in the blender makes a great beginner baby food!