Pasta with Chickpeas (Pasta E Ceci)

January 24, 2023

When it comes to comfort food, there is nothing better than a warm, hearty bowl of pasta that is packed with flavor, protein, and healthy fats. And when it comes to a recipe that takes the cake for all three, it has to be Pasta with Chickpeas – otherwise known as Pasta E Ceci. This traditional Italian pasta recipe is creamy, comforting, delicious, and can easily be made gluten-free and vegan-friendly, too!

A big bowl of the pasta with chickpeas, sitting on a tabletop alongside a block of parmesan, drink glasses, and another bowl of the pasta

Pasta e ceci, or pasta and chickpeas, is a classic Italian dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. It’s a simple yet hearty dish that is perfect for a cold winter day or a comforting meal on a lazy Sunday. The dish is believed to have originated in the southern regions of Italy, where chickpeas were a staple crop and pasta was a common ingredient in many meals. The combination of these two simple ingredients creates a dish that is both filling and delicious. And, can be made vegan-friendly as well!

One of the best things about pasta e ceci is how easy it is to make. All you need is a can of chickpeas, some pasta, and a few basic seasonings. The chickpeas are simmered with garlic, onion, and a bit of tomato sauce to create a thick, flavorful broth. The pasta is then added to the pot and cooked until tender. But the real magic of pasta e ceci lies in its versatility. You can add in any vegetables you have on hand, such as spinach, zucchini, or even kale. And if you want to add some protein, you can add sausage or chicken. The possibilities are endless!

This recipe has truly become a family favorite in my household, and I know it will be in yours, too. Just don’t forget that sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top, it brings the dish to a whole new level!

What You Need to Make This Creamy Vegan-Friendly Pasta

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: When it comes to making an Italian recipe like Pasta E Ceci, there really is no substitute for the extra virgin olive oil. It adds the best flavor and also a dose of healthy fats!
  • Garlic: In almost any recipe, but especially this one, I recommend using fresh garlic over garlic powder. Why? Because the flavor that fresh garlic adds is so much better!
  • Red Onion: I love adding diced red onion to almost any pasta dish, and it is especially delicious in this recipe!
  • Tomato Paste: Canned tomato paste is perfect for adding that rich, tomato-y flavor that is signature to this recipe.
  • Sea Salt: A pinch of sea salt is necessary for any good pasta recipe!
  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas are one of my favorite sources of plant-based protein. And not only that, but they are also incredibly inexpensive, making this the perfect recipe for anyone on a budget.
  • Small-Shaped Pasta: I use elbow-shaped pasta in this recipe, but truly any small pasta shape will do! Shells and even orzo are two other, great options.
  • Chicken Broth: To add flavor to this pasta, we’ll be cooking our pasta in chicken broth. However, you can truly use any broth that you desire – veggie broth also works just as well here!
  • Bay Leaf: A bay leaf adds a rich depth of flavor to this pasta recipe, so don’t skip it! Just don’t forget to take it out before serving.
  • Garnishes: These are optional, but I love garnishing this pasta with some crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese!
All of the ingredients needed to make this pasta with chickpeas, laid out on a countertop

How to Make This Hearty & Delicious Pasta Recipe

To make this delicious Pasta E Ceci, start by heating your olive oil in a large pot, on the stove, over high heat, until it shimmers. Next, chop your garlic and red onion and add it to the pot with the hot oil, stirring until they become lightly browned and fragrant. This should take approximately 3-4 minutes.

Then, add your tomato paste and sea salt into the pot and stir for about another minute, until they’re fully combined. Next, add your chickpeas, pasta, chicken broth, and bay leaf to the pot and scrape the bottom to ensure that the browned bits are fully incorporated into the mixture.

Then, lower the heat and let the pasta mixture simmer, uncovered, until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed into it. This should take approximately 20 minutes. Finally, once done, remove from the heat, serve, and enjoy! Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes and freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a review and rating below! To see more recipes and behind the scenes, follow along on InstagramTikTok, and Youtube! I’m also now on Pinterest, so stop by and take a look at what’s new.

** Photography by Bea Moreno
A big bowl of the pasta with chickpeas, sitting on a tabletop alongside a block of parmesan, drink glasses, and another bowl of the pasts
Dairy Free/Nut Free/Refined Sugar Free/Vegan

Pasta with Chickpeas (Pasta E Ceci)

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Nicole Modic
SERVES 4 Servings
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When it comes to comfort food, there is nothing better than a warm, hearty bowl of pasta that is packed with flavor, protein, and healthy fats. And when it comes to a recipe that takes the cake for all three, it has to be Pasta with Chickpeas – otherwise known as Pasta E Ceci. This traditional Italian pasta recipe is creamy, comforting, delicious, and can easily be made gluten-free and vegan-friendly, too!

Ingredients

For the Pasta:

  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves Garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1 Small Red Onion diced
  • 1 6 oz. can Tomato Paste this should be about 1/4 cup
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 15 oz. can Chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 Cup Small Shaped Pasta I use elbows!
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth or use broth of choice
  • 1 Bay Leaf

For the Garnishes:

  • 1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Teaspoon Parmesan Cheese freshly grated

Instructions

  • Start by heating your olive oil in a large pot, on the stove, over high heat, until it shimmers.
  • Next, chop your garlic and red onion and add it to the pot with the hot oil, stirring until they become lightly browned and fragrant. This should take approximately 3-4 minutes.
  • Then, add your tomato paste and sea salt into the pot and stir for about another minute, until they're fully combined.
  • Next, add your chickpeas, pasta, chicken broth, and bay leaf to the pot and scrape the bottom to ensure that the browned bits are fully incorporated into the mixture.
  • Then, lower the heat and let the pasta mixture simmer, uncovered, until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed into it. This should take approximately 20 minutes.
  • Finally, once done, remove from the heat, serve, and enjoy! Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes and freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

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