My tummy started to growl during a long stroll to nowhere in Florence, Italy. My fury erupts when I’m hungry. Others have called me everything from “gremlin” to “monster” so I needed a bite quickly! As I wove through the quieter streets, I prayed that I wouldn’t fall into a tourist trap.
I peeped into an unremarkable restaurant that was buzzing with diners. I entered with my fingers crossed. Little did I know, I was about to enjoy one of the most delicious meals of my life.
The lunch menu had six simple items that were made entirely from scratch. As I savored each bite, the fresh ingredients danced in my mouth. The luscious tagliatelle e funghi was simply unforgettable.
I’ve been so busy with Vancouver Food Tour that I haven’t blogged in a while.
One dish particularly stood out during this meal. On the hand-written menu, it was simply listed as “e ceci”. I understood that ceci meant chickpeas (which I adore) so I gave it a whirl.
The server placed a bowl of brown soup with little ditalini pasta peeking through and a heavy swirl of olive oil. This must be a mistake, I thought. I dipped my spoon in suspiciously, slurpped up the mysterious slurry, and smiled in contentment. Slow-simmered and pureed chickpeas, little loops of pasta, and good olive oil. Simplicity exemplified.
Please don’t hate me but I cannot recall the name of the place for the life of me. But if you are willing to shell out some dough, I’m willing to dig through my stacks of receipts for you, k?
Fast forward to reality. I was invited to a last minute potluck dinner and my fridge was near empty. I frantically rummaged through my pantry and found a pack of pasta and a can of chickpeas. These items brought me right back to my leisurely lunch that faithful day in Florence. I scrummaged a few more kitchen staples together and created this potluck friendly version of pasta e ceci.
- 1/2 lb of dry pasta
- 1 large can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 head of roasted garlic
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Good olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Cook the pasta until almost a dente in a large pot of heavily salted water. Drain and set aside.
In a large saucepan, sweat the onions in some olive oil until caramelized. Season with salt. Add the chickpeas and garlic and cook over medium heat until the chickpeas are warmed through. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Blend the mixture until smooth while drizzling in 1/3 cup of olive oil. Stir in the sour cream. Add the pasta, half of the cheese, and the parsley.
Transfer to an oven-safe dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Bake in the oven until bubbly and the cheese is lightly golden, approx 10 minutes. Serve hot, drizzled with more olive oil.
Serves 8 side dish portions