Ciceri e Tria – pasta and chickpeas!

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I was inspired to make this recipe at one of Vini’s sagra nights, where they celebrated Puglia’s rich cuisine and one of my favourite regions in Southern Italy. This pasta recipe has its origins from Arabia, a culture who at one time ruled the Apulia region and has become a symbol of Salento, Puglia. Ciceri means “chickpeas” in Latin and Tria means “pasta” in Arabic. I could not find a better dish to symbolise my love for the humble chickpea. So resilient, simple and honest!

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When preparing Ciceri e Tria, one needs a key ingredient – time! In Puglia they top the dish with fried pasta but on this occasion I leave the fried bits for next time. They say fried pasta was added to create a taste of meatiness and texture in the dish when times of meat was scarce. 

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I love fresh pasta and I think this dish deserves it but I am not the kind to make it. Instead I dash to Pasta Emilia where they make  fresh delicious pasta and so many varieties are at your reach. I wanted wide sheets of pasta, the Pappardelle caught my eye, I could see silky smooth sheets of pasta harmoniously wrapping the chickpeas and puree, yes that’s the one, I’ll take 2 bags please! I ran out feeling more determined that this dish was going to be as good as the history books pronounce, rich in culture and spirit. I only wonder if the Arabs in Puglia were as excited as me to see this dish come together.

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At times when I enjoy a recipe at a restaurant it sticks to my head, until I cook it. I mentally go over the experience to capture every detail. For this recipe I remember Vini added a delicious sweet chickpea puree that coated the pasta so well and had everyone around the table talking. Although the traditional recipe doesn’t call for a puree, this touch shows off this iconic dish with an elegant mouthfeel of chickpeas!

Recipe (serves 4)

  • 450g of fresh pappardelle pasta
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 30g of fresh chilli, chopped

Chickpea stock

  • 400g of dried chickpeas
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes
  • 1 onion, with skin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, with skin
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • Bouque garnei of parsley stalks and 2 bay leaves

Chickpea puree

  • 5 tbsp of cooked chickpeas
  • cooked carrot, skinned
  • cooked tomato, skinned
  • salt and pepper to taste

Tips

Soak good quality chickpeas overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place them in a pot and cover with fresh water. Add the onion, bouquet garnei , carrot, celery, tomatoes and garlic. Bring water to a simmer, add the salt, cover the pan and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chickpeas become very tender. Once chickpeas are ready pull pot off the heat and scoop 5 tablespoons of chickpeas, carrot and 1 tomato for puree. Blend to make a smooth puree, add salt and pepper to taste, set aside as it becomes the sauce to combine your pasta in.

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