Here I am some years ago in Cervantes bar, Napoli, about to tuck into a huge bowl of Pasta e Ceci. Every Friday, the dish is the star of the menu. Locals flock to this unassuming backstreet eatery for a bowl of simple, warming and delicious pasta with chickpeas. Whenever me and my family are in town we make sure to join them.
It seems there has been a return to both frugality and simplicity in the restaurant world, with dishes associated with hard times appearing on top eatery menus. ‘La Cucina Povera’ (the Pauper’s Kitchen) has become trendy! In the South of Italy where hardship has more or less always prevailed, dishes using stale bread or legumes such as Panzanella and Pasta e Fagioli have always been a necessity yet remained both loved and revered.
Click here for my Pasta e Ceci recipe. Using leftover handfuls of different types of pasta and chickpeas which are always readily available and highly economical, this dish is filling, tasty and inexpensive to make. It’s cousin of sorts to Pasta e Fagioli, another frugal dish of pasta with beans much-loved in Italy. You can make it to a thick soup consistency, or as a sauce slathered pasta dish – it depends how much water you use. As long as there is plenty of olive oil and garlic it will be tasty either way.
Long live la Cucina Povera!