Pasta e ceci: Hoping for spring!

That one beautiful day last week, plus the thought of Daylight Saving Time on its way (it starts March 8!), put us in such a mood for putting away the crock pot and inspired us to cook up something fast and a bit lighter.

We had to do one important thing before we thought about dinner — lunch!  And that we did, with Aunti Lou, who always shares a great family story about growing up, while preparing a big pot of deliciousness.

For lunch, what our Grandmother Izzo used to make for Aunti Lou, all the time, was Pasta e Ceci. It is simply any pasta with chickpeas, good quality olive oil and garlic. The aroma is incredible.

In those days, they called it macaroni and the chickpeas were bought dry and had to be soaked overnight. Aunti Lou says using the canned beans is just fine and that is what we did.

This recipe is so quick and can be prepared with water, vegetable or chicken broth. You can make it a pasta dish like the recipe below or just add more broth and serve it as a soup. It comes together in about 20 minutes and remember to serve it with a great crusty bread.

This is a great one, Enjoy!

Pasta e Ceci

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 or 2 large shallots, minced

3 ounces pancetta, chopped (optional)

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups  chicken stock

2 (14.5-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 lb. dried pasta (cooked separately)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

ricotta cheese for a dollop on top as garnish

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and  beans. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Now add the cooked pasta and taste and re-season to your liking.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Dollop with ricotta if using.