To make something beautiful out of simple ingredients is true grace. In Italy, this style of cuisine, which evolved out of making do, is known as cucina povera. Today’s recipe, ciceri e tria (pasta with chickpeas), is right out of the cucina povera of Salento in Puglia. The genius of it isn’t just that it elevates normal ingredients, but that some of the fresh pasta is simmered in chickpea broth, which thickens it wonderfully. The remaining pasta is shallow-fried for a delicious crunch, which is the icing on top of the cake, so to speak.
Ciceri e tria
It’s simpler than you might think to make your own pasta, and very cheap, too.
Prep 15 minCook 1 hr Serves 4
For the chickpeas 4 tbsp olive oil1 carrot, peeled and finely diced 1 large onion, peeled and finely diced1 stalk celery, finely diced 2 bay leaves2 rosemary sprigs2 x 400g tinned chickpeas, drained 1½ tsp fine sea salt 100g cherry tomatoes, halved 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the pasta250g fine semolina flourFine sea salt 80ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for rubbing the dough2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced ½ tsp chilli flakes
First make the pasta dough. Pour the semolina flour into a bowl, add half a teaspoon of fine salt, mix well and slowly stir in 140ml water. Knead for five minutes, until you have a firm dough. Rub a little olive oil over it and put it to one side.
Put the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and, once hot, add the carrot, onion, celery, bay leaves and rosemary, and cook, stirring intermittently, for 20 minutes. Add the chickpeas, salt and a litre of water, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and lemon juice, simmer for five minutes more, then take off the heat.
Put the dough on a clean work surface. Roll out the pasta into a large, roughly 3mm-thick rectangle. Using the back of a table knife, cut the dough into ½cm-wide x 10-15cm long strips, then set aside.
Heat a frying pan and pour in 80ml oil. Add the sliced garlic and a third of the pasta, sprinkle over a pinch or two of salt, and fry for three minutes, until crisp. Stir through the chilli, then take off the heat, leaving the pasta in the pan.
Just before serving, bring the chickpea mix up to a simmer. Drop in the remaining pasta, and cook for two minutes. Scoop the chickpeas, veg and pasta into bowls with a ladleful or two of the broth, top with some of the fried pasta, spoon over some chilli oil and serve immediately.