Pasta e Ceci (pasta with chickpeas) is an easy recipe that makes the perfect weeknight meal! This delicious one-pot pasta can be prepared with very few ingredients. If you have Parmigiano Reggiano rinds saved in the fridge this is the dish to use them with! I hope you enjoy this pasta and chickpeas recipe!
It's one of those dishes that you can't go long without making again and again.
For this reason, I always have reserve cans of chickpeas in my pantry.
When I'm in the mood for a salad, this delicious chickpea arugula salad always hits the spot, and when I'm in the mood for a soup it's time to make pasta e ceci!
A very similar dish to this one is pasta fagioli. These two pasta and bean recipes are quite similar and often start with the same base of a few vegetables and garlic. You could easily sub cannellini beans for the chickpeas in this recipe if you're out.
What is Pasta e Ceci?
Pasta e Ceci (pasta and chickpeas) is an essential Roman dish that is made with chickpeas, a short pasta, and broth. Variations sometimes add pancetta, tomato, carrots, celery, anchovies, rosemary, and pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano. The color can be red or white depending on preference.
It starts with a base of garlic, sometimes onion, and chickpeas. The pasta is often cooked in the water and bean broth. I prefer, for simplicity's sake, to boil the pasta, add it in when it's almost al dente, and let it cook further in the sauce to absorb the flavor.
There's really nothing to this one, but it's so good! I will go into variations and substitutions below, but for now, I will show you how to make one of the most common versions of pasta e ceci.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Ingredients shown: Parmigiano Reggiano, tomato paste, two cans of chickpeas, onion, rosemary, carrot, and celery.
- Begin by dicing 1 small onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.
- Grate 1 cup of parmigiano reggiano cheese.
- Dice one small carrot and 1 rib of celery.
- Add a ¼ cup of olive oil to a large pot. Basically, coat the bottom. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute on medium heat. Add the carrot and celery and continue sauteing for 5 minutes more or until soft. Keep the heat on the low side so as not to brown the veggies.
- Drain the chickpeas (canned beans come in a sodium solution that varies by brand so it's best to get rid of the solution by giving them a rinse) and add to the pot. Stir for 1 minute to incorporate the flavors.
- Add the tomato paste and rosemary. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes in the oil and veggies.
- Add the 6 cups of chicken broth and give it a stir. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the large rosemary stem.
- This next step is optional. With an immersion blender lightly blend some of the chickpeas to thicken the soup.
- Add the al dente pasta to the broth and let it cook and absorb the flavors for at least 15 minutes.
- After about 15 minutes add in a ½ cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano and give it a stir. Taste test the pasta with chickpeas and adjust salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper if desired. If too thin, let it cook uncovered a little bit longer and if too thick, add some reserved pasta water. Serve in bowls with a hefty drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, more cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes on the side. Also, don't forget the crusty Italian bread. Enjoy!
So that's how you make Pasta e Ceci. It's so good for a quick weeknight meal. Just double the recipe if you have a big group. Add more chickpeas if you like, or subtract some pasta if you want.
For a more traditional Pasta e Ceci, the pasta should be cooked in the broth or water. This is a little harder to do and requires a little bit more time watching the pot. If you want to do it that way, absolutely go for it! Just follow the recipe and instead of adding al dente pasta, add uncooked pasta and let it cook at a simmer. Taste test the pasta as it cooks to get the right consistency and add more broth or water when required.
Canned vs dry chickpeas
So the canned chickpeas make the dish a lot easier, as all you have to do is pop the top, drain, and rinse them. The reason for rinsing is to remove the sodium solution. If using dried chickpeas, make sure to soak them overnight, then follow the recipe in the same manner.
Use any small pasta you like. Ditalini, small shells, and elbow macaroni all work well. We used very small bowties which look especially nice. My grandmother would often use a mix of small pasta that she had leftover from Her Pasta Fagioli or other soup recipes she would make.
Substitutions and additions
- In Brodo - If you like it soupier, add more chicken broth and/or pasta water. This is strictly a personal preference. Save the pasta water, so you can thin if needed.
- In Bianco - To make Pasta e Ceci in bianco, omit all the tomato and use another flavoring agent such as anchovy or pancetta. For the amount of pasta and chickpeas in this recipe, 4 ounces of pancetta and/or 2 chopped anchovy fillets would be perfect.
- Greens - Greens such as kale, chicory or spinach are all great additions and make this recipe a little healthier.
- Long Pasta - Can absolutely be used. Some lasagna or pappardelle or really any long heavy noodle broke up works great. The irregular shape gives it a more rustic feel. Broken spaghetti is also quite nice. My Grandmother would often break up spaghetti and toss it into her amazing zucchini soup. I will have a recipe out on that one soon!
What to serve with Pasta e Ceci
- The best green salad - Via Carota style green salad recipe.
- Broccoli with garlic and oil - simple delicious green veggie side.
- Sauteed garlic broccoli rabe - another perfect green veggie!
More quick and easy pasta recipes
- Pasta with broccoli - orecchiette with creamy broccoli sauce.
- Bucatini cacio e pepe - classic Roman pasta with cheese and pepper.
- Pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil - 15 to 20 minute pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil.
- Linguine aglio e olio - simple garlic and oil linguine recipe.
If you’ve enjoyed this pasta e ceci recipe or any recipe on this site please let us know in the comments. We would love to hear how you did and it’s nice to show others as well. Thanks!
The full YouTube video for this recipe is directly below in the recipe card.
- 12 ounces small pasta
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1 small celery rib
- 1 small carrot
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 15 ounce cans of chickpeas
- 1 cup parmigiano reggiano
- 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups pasta water
- 1 large sprig rosemary
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- Start by cooking pasta to al dente in salted (2 Tbsp kosher salt per gallon) water. Reserve pasta water for thinning later if required.
- Dice onion, carrot, and celery into small pieces. Mince 2 cloves of garlic. Grate 1 cup of parmigiano reggiano.
- In a large pot add the ¼ cup of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic for 1 minute on medium heat. Add the chopped carrots and celery and continue to saute for 5 more minutes until softened.
- Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas to the pot and cook for 1 minute. Next, add the 3 ounces of tomato paste and the rosemary sprig and give it a stir. Cook for 3 more minutes.
- Add the 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth and bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove the rosemary stem and add the pasta and let cook for 10 -15 minutes more on low heat to absorb all the flavors.
- Finally, add the ½ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano and stir one more time. If the pasta e ceci is too thin for your liking let it cook for a few more minutes to thicken. If it is too thick, just add some of the reserved pasta water.
- Before bringing the pot to the table, taste test and adjust salt/pepper and crushed red pepper levels if required. Serve in bowls with a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive on top. Serve with crusty Italian bread, more cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes on the side. Enjoy!
- Water can be subbed for chicken broth.
- Any small pasta works well in this recipe.
- An optional step is to blend the chickpeas with an immersion or regular blender prior to adding the pasta.
- Salt and pepper levels were kept low. Adjust accordingly.
- Crushed red pepper flakes were listed but are served on the side.