Pasta e ceci: a simple, comforting meal to make for one or for a whole crew of people. After many days of traveling this past week, it feels right to ruminate over a dish that can accommodate anyone with the energy to chop some garlic, open a can of chickpeas, and boil some pasta–even after a particularly long commute.
Each way, door-to-door, my daily trudge to and from work takes about an hour and a half each way: not exactly an insignificant amount of time spent in transit five days a week. Michael’s walk to work is much, much shorter–a quick walk that usually lasts between one or two iPod songs and just a handful of blocks. It should be no surprise then, that he is the mastermind in the kitchen during week–the only exceptions are when I’m off during the day or when he has to stay late at work for one reason or another. Neither occurs all that often, but last week an experiment he was working on kept him at the lab until 8-ish, leaving me on my own in the kitchen.
It was a damp, kind of gross day–much like today actually– and I had no desire to even trudge downstairs to Appletree to get provisions, therefore leaving me to what we had on hand. After a quick survey of the cabinets and fridge, I decided that pasta e ceci would be the perfect meal to make: something I could make in bulk to take to work the next day and also leave some for Michael to nibble on whenever he came home that night.
Macaroni e Ceci
serves 4-6, or 2 with many leftovers
- 1 1 lb box of pasta, preferably something small like macaroni elbows
- 1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Up to 1 cup vermouth
- 2-3 anchovy fillets (optional; these were leftover from Sunday’s dinner and therefore I wanted to use them up)
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 8-10 chives for garnish
- 1/2 cup grating cheese (I used Asiago as I had leftovers to use up; you can also use Pecorino or Parmigiano – Reggiano)
Bring water to a boil, add salt and then pasta; cook a minute or two less than the package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a frying pan, add some olive oil (you can also use the oil from the anchovies), all in all about 3-4 tablespoons and heat over medium heat. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the anchovy and garlic; heat until the garlic is golden and reduce the heat a little to keep the garlic from burning. Add the chickpeas and cook for about a minute or two, then add about a half of the vermouth. Season gently with salt and let the vermouth cook down a little. Add the pasta into the pan, toss with the other ingredients, and add more vermouth to taste in order to create the amount of sauce you’d like–just taste as you go, and allow a little time for the alcohol to cook out with each splash of more vermouth. When pasta is to your liking, take it off the heat and serve, sprinkling it with some cheese and chives.
After a few bites and a moment of reflection on his part once he arrived home, Michael declared that I was now in charge of making pasta. I don’t know if that will really hold up (after all, we are limiting ourselves, or trying to at least, to one night a week) but it was a lovely compliment all the same for an otherwise humble meal.