Penelope lived in Tuscany among the olive groves and farms for years, learning from local people about their culture, land, and food.
Pasta Ceci Garbanzo Beans
Authentically Good Pasta with Ceci
You Need Fresh Rosemary.
Ingedients and Their Story
Real Italian cooking is simple. Varied. It is made from seasonal foods, prepared freshly every day. So the food that is prepared and served through the year changes subtly, day by day, through the seasons.
The ingredients are regionally different (there is a colder Italy as well as a hot one, there are coasts and mountains and flat lands etc) which is why Italians have so many many national dishes.
Pasta Ceci (made with ceci or Garbanzo beans) is a Roman dish, a proletariat favorite that dates back centuries. Rome is the seat of Government and of the Vatican but most of it's citizens have always found it hard to make ends meet. This pasta dish is one of the simplest (whole) meals in the world!
It is also very useful if you have to feed a family and have run out of provisions or time or money and you have to raid your supplies for that rainy day!
There are only four basic ingredients to it. Plus grated black pepper.
- ceci (otherwise known a chick peas or Garbanzo beans) - pronounced shéshi.
- fresh rosemary,
- dried pasta
- a sprinkling of raw olive oil.
It costs pennies to make. It is very good for you. It will warm you in the winter and be a delightful fresh dish in the summer (served cool).
A very old Roman lady, who lived in a street next to the Colosseum, taught me how to make it. Her name was Irma.
Irma was a typical ancient Roman lady from the very heart of her 'eternal' city. She was small, bent, dark, baritone, missing several teeth and extremely wry. She had mothered ten children and she was tired.
She was so tired that she sometimes took to her room and would not come out or answer the door for very many days. Her family clicked their tongues, muttered in hushed voices and worried, hoping that she would return to them soon. (Indeed, that she would return at all.) They respected her; she had survived so much and for so long, she was the family matriarch and if she chose to die in her room this way, then sadly, so be it. But Irma inevitably came back out.
When she recovered, she recovered all of herself and went back to taking care of her home and ALL the family around her. She shopped at her market, prepared the veg on her front step, fed her cats, the Colosseum cats, gave her twopence worth to all and she cooked. She cooked Roman dishes, just the way they have always been cooked.
Irma was a purist; Roman's don't ever feel the need to change. Perche? (Why?)
This is her recipe. It is called Pasta Ceci, made exactly the way Irma taught me.
How to Make Pasta Ceci
For four people:
You soak half a packet of dried ceci (chick peas) in abundant cold water (or several hand fulls)
for about 8 hours.
Put them on to boil in a large pan with approx 3-4 pints water (one and a half litres) and
several twigs of fresh rosemary.
Turn the heat down under the pan when the water boils.
Simmer for about 1 hour to 1 and half hour.
Every now and then take the cooked rosemary out and put in another twig.
Add salt to taste after about 45 minutes, or thereabouts.
When the ceci are cooked, (no longer hard but not mushy)
add the pasta, usually a short pasta.
I'm using a mixed short pasta type here.
Follow the instructions on the packet regarding cooking time in minutes.
Turn the heat off.
Let the pasta ceci stand for a while, say 15 minutes.
Serve it into dishes that look rustic, if possible.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over it.
Grate black pepper over it to your liking.
Simple Italian Cooking
- Cheapest traditional Italian spaghetti with delicious anchovy sauce.
How to make Gina's Italian spaghetti with anchovy sauce. It's a traditional old fashioned recipe using the cheapest ingredients ever. Delicious.
- Tuscany tomato sauce with garlic for spaghetti, with onion for fettuccine!
A fresh Tuscan cherry tomato sauce for spaghetti is best with garlic. And onion is better in the sauce for fettuccine.
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on June 14, 2012:
It's a REALLY frugal meal and it tastes so good, especially if you have some fresh rosemary. Nice to hear from you, thanks so much.
toomuchmint on June 14, 2012:
This is a great recipe for frugal shoppers. I always think beans and rice. Beans and pasta seems exotic and interesting, but it's even more inexpensive. Up!
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on May 28, 2012:
Thanks. Don't forget the black pepper and olive oil at the end!
Nancy McClintock from Southeast USA on May 27, 2012:
Great hub . I have to try this one. Thanks!!!!
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on April 24, 2012:
Well how nice of you festersporling1. Thanks. It's truly healthy and truly the simplest recipe in the world. Don't forget the olive oil and black pepper at the end!
Daniel Christian from Los Angeles, CA on April 24, 2012:
What a yummy recipe Italian pasta sauce with Garbanzo beans.Goodlady you made it simpler but healthier.thanks for this great hub.
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on April 09, 2012:
Honored you'll try out this garbanzo beans dish! Thanks for the votes and the visit.
Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on April 09, 2012:
Never thought to mix pasta and chick peas (we call them garbanzo beans here in the U.S.). We'll give this a try. Voting this Up and Useful.
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on March 27, 2012:
Hi Randy M. You might also want to put some anchovy with the garlic, squash them together with olive oil to make a paste- and add at the last minute. It's another way to go!
Thanks for dropping in. And for comments.
Randy McLaughlin from Liberia, Costa Rica on March 27, 2012:
Nice recipe. I might add some garlic as well because it is my favorite herb. Interesting way to use rosemary.
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on January 30, 2012:
Thank you so much.
Loved Irma and loved taking the pictures in our farmhouse one night. Too bad you couldn't have dropped in.
So glad to have you in my life!
Susan Reid from Where Left is Right, CA on January 30, 2012:
GoodLady, You've made the simplest of recipes intriguing by seasoning it with Irma and affection. Love the writing and the photos.
Glad to have found you! MM
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on January 10, 2012:
Hi and thanks for dropping in,
Hope you try the recipe and hope you love it.
Elena from London, UK on January 08, 2012:
A very healthy dish. Thanks for the Recipe.
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on January 01, 2012:
Hope you really enjoy pasta ceci with your family...great you have the rosemary....
Many thanks for commenting...
Happy New Year 2uesday.
2uesday on January 01, 2012:
This looks good, I will share this recipe with my family as they like chick peas/ceci and we have never tried them with pasta and we have rosemary growing in the garden to use for this. We have eaten ceci in Pisa they had been made into a type of pancake. I hope 2012 is a good year for you.
aliciajfarinoli from Fitzwilliam, NH on December 23, 2011:
Not only is this a great authentic recipe to try, but it is such a heart warming memory of Irma. She almost sounds like my own Nana. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on December 23, 2011:
What a thoughtful, kind comment. Many thanks.
Everyone was out buying their fresh fish at the Grosseto Christmas market this morning.
I can't help it; I'm making mince pies!
Nadolig Llawen (Welsh for Happy Christmas)
akune from Surrey, England, United Kingdom on December 22, 2011:
Oh my. I love the way you write. And your light shed on real Italian cooking is the same light that shines from anything that is classic and true- it is simple.
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on December 22, 2011:
Hi Sabrani44! Hope you really like it. Thanks for comment and for bookmarking!
And mildgulley354, so pleased you enjoyed Irma's story, thanks so much for your comment.
mljdgulley354 on December 21, 2011:
Loved the background story you shared with this dish. The dish looks yummy.
sabrani44 on December 21, 2011:
This looks delicious! Bookmarked it and will definitely try this recipe :)
Penelope Hart (author) from Rome, Italy on December 21, 2011:
Thanks so much for dropping by.
Hope you love it.
RTalloni on December 21, 2011:
Oh my--I'm so glad I did not know what to make for dinner tonight--thanks! Will try to report back.