Orecchiette with Chickpeas

Chickpeas may be grown in southern Italy, but the tasty “ceci” is popular all over that country. This pasta recipe uses them to great effect in a brothy Italian classic. If you have the time use dried chickpeas in this recipe, they have a better flavor and especially texture, than the canned variety.

Orecchiette with Chickpeas 

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serves 6


  • 9 ounce dried chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled, halved, and cut into ¼‑inch slivers
  • 1 stalk celery, cut in ¼” dice
  • 1 carrot, cut in ¼” dice
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 small sweet red pepper or ½ red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 6 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 pound orecchiette or other small sized pasta
  • very good olive oil for drizzling
  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 clove garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


Put the chickpeas into a large saucepan, cover with cold water and soak overnight. The next day drain the chickpeas and rinse them with cold water.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan, adding the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and rosemary. Cook this mixture over medium high heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, but not yet colored.

Season with plenty of salt and pepper (the beans like quite a bit of salt), then add the sweet red pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir in the tomato sauce and the stock. Then add the pre-soaked chickpeas, stirring to incorporate. 

Bring the pot to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally for 1 ½ hours until the chickpeas are tender. You may need to add a bit more water through this process to maintain a constant level.

Taste the mixture. Chickpeas benefit from a late in the process seasoning method, so season them generously at this time. Then turn the heat off until you are nearly ready to serve. At that point, bring the liquid to a boil and add the pasta. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the pasta is al dente. Remove the rosemary branch and serve warm.

Pass very good olive oil and Parmesan cheese at the table to garnish each serving. Serve with lots of rustic bread.