Tag Archives: chickpeas

Chickpea & onion ravioli

1 Jul

For me it’s all about the pasta.

Sometimes, though, it’s really about the filling.

I had been Jonesin for some chickpeas (garbanzos if you prefer the more humorous sounding designation, ceci to those who parlano Italiano). The original dinner plan had called for some kind of homemade noodle, sauce To Be Determined, and so with the dough at the ready I set out to concoct a chickpea filling to stuff inside ravioli.

Following me down this determined—if haphazardly charted—course would not be the worst culinary decision that you could make.

Saute a small onion, two or three garlic cloves and some hot pepper in olive oil.

After the onion has softened add one 15-ounce can of chickpeas (drained of liquid).

Add in the zest of half a lemon and simmer for maybe five minutes.

In a bowl mash the chickpeas by hand. The idea is not to make the filling totally smooth but to keep some texture; otherwise I’d have used a food processor and turned this into more of a puree.

This is about right as far as consistency. Once you’ve mashed the chickpeas put them in the fridge and allow to cool before filling the ravioli.

The rest is just your basic ravioli making, which starts out like this…

… makes its way here …

… and winds up a right about in this place. I’d suggest a simple brown butter and sage preparation to sauce these ravioli. In fact, that’s what I had prepared myself.

But it just so happens that my friend Laura delivered a bag of zucchini flowers.

And so just for kicks I decided to toss them in with the brown butter and sage.

When the ravioli are boiled to doneness gently remove them from the water using a slotted spoon and add them to the pan with the brown butter. It’s okay to let some of the pasta water into the pan; in fact, you’ll want some of it to mix with the butter and coat the ravioli. Remove the ravioli to individual plates and serve immediately.

I will be Jonesin for these ravioli again one day. Soon.

Lamb & chickpea ragu

1 Feb

When a person works very hard, and for many hours, solely to produce a product that will make me happy, well, the least that I can do is cook the poor woman some dinner.

Shyster Jersey Lawyer Friend went above and beyond this past Christmas. Way, way, way above and beyond. She showed up at the house one day with a box big enough to accommodate a goose down parka. Except that it was packed with Sicilian fig cookies!

If you know these cookies (cucidati as they are known in Italy) then you appreciate how much work goes into making them. Most people make sure to have plenty of helping hands around on “cucidati day,” but Shy went it alone. Which explains the note that accompanied her extraordinary gift: “I love you Meatball,” it said. “But never again!!!”

And so when my friend came over for dinner the other evening I made certain to prepare a meal that incorporated some of her very favorites: lamb, chickpeas, and homemade pasta.

This is around 1.5 pounds of well-trimmed lamb shoulder, which I’ve cut into cubes and liberally seasoned with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Lightly dredge the seasoned lamb in all-purpose flour.

In a medium size dutch oven sear the lamb in a good amount of olive oil, then remove to a plate and set aside.

Add 1.5 cups of a good quality red wine (I used an inexpensive Nero d’Avola). Turn the heat up to high and reduce until much of the wine has evaporated and what’s left of the liquid is somewhat thickened.

Add 3 tablespoons of butter.

Add 2 chopped celery stalks, 4 chopped carrots, 1 chopped large onion, 6 chopped garlic cloves, and a healthy dose of fresh rosemary and thyme.

After the vegetables have softened stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.

Then add 4 cups of chicken stock.

Return the lamb to the pot, stir it into the liquid, and simmer slowly, not at a rapid boil.

Around 30 minutes after adding the lamb toss in a (drained) 15-ounce can of chickpeas, and continue to simmer slowly for another hour (making the total simmering time around 90 minutes). Season to taste.

Some people may choose to skip the addition of chickpeas. If you are among those, rest assured that the ragu is just fine without them, and with no furher changes to the recipe.

Personally, I really like having the chickpeas in there. Shy seemed to enjoy them as well. Which, on this particular evening, was all that really mattered to me.

Wonder if it’ll help score me some more fig cookies next Christmas.

Chickpea & cabbage soup

25 Oct

I’ll say this about vegetarians: Their soups are a snap. I began prepping this chickpea and cabbage deal at around 6:15 pm the other evening. By 7:15, I was on the sofa catching up on my “Boardwalk Empire” (poor Eddie), a warm soup bowl in one hand and a chilled glass of Roero Arneis in the other.

This soup is so easy to make that even my veg-only left coast pal Ricklie could probably pull it off. If only she had a stove. Which she doesn’t. (I know. How does a human live without one! No, really, how?)

Just saute a large onion, five garlic cloves and however much hot pepper you can stand. I think a good kick of heat really enhances this particular soup, and so I used a good-sized fresh chili. It would not have been ruined by the addition of another.

Okay, I also threw in a few anchovy fillets, but most of you would rather be boiled in hot oil than eat an anchovy and so, well, don’t. (The little fishes do not square with vegetarians either, and so please feel free to leave them out.)

After the onions are softened, add a chopped up medium-size head of cabbage, along with a good dose of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the pot so that the cabbage can soften a bit before moving ahead.

After about 10 minutes uncover and add a half cup of white wine or dry vermouth, then turn up the heat so that the wine can burn off.

Add one quart of stock. I used chicken (uh-oh!), but vegetable stock would be fine. Also add a 19-oz. can of chickpeas (drained but not rinsed), then set the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

After about 30 minutes you should be all set to go.

Except for one VERY important final step: You have just got to grate some Pecorino-Romano cheese onto this soup. Believe me, the sharpness of the cheese really pulls it all together.

A little crusty bread to sop things up isn’t such a terrible thing either. But you knew that.

Joe’s "Italian" hummus

8 Sep

My friends and I talk about food a lot. Probably too much, okay, you’re right, but who are we hurting?

Just yesterday Joe and I were having a not altogether satisfying email exchange about the New York Metropolitans. (All exchanges regarding the lowly Mets are unsatisfying, by the way, and in no way reflect the conversational skills of those persons involved, in this case the always entertaining Joe B.) Anyhow, right after correcting my spelling of Cal Koonce (don’t ask), my food-loving friend inserted the following line:

“Meanwhile, I have perfected a hummus recipe. You want? Only “Italian” angle I could find would be that I use Progresso ceci because they come in 19-ounce cans instead of normal 15-ounce cans…”

I should mention that Joe disapproves of my editorial position on this blog, i.e., focusing almost exclusively on Italian-inspired foods. “You don’t only eat Italian,” he barks at about every opening I allow him. “And you cook all kinds of food too, so why limit yourself? What sense does this make?”

Oddly, it is always in the middle of these conversations with Joe that I am called away on important matters; during yesterday’s rant (sorry, conversation) I remembered that I had neglected to clean out the lint trap in the dryer after running a pair of wet socks through it that morning.

I briefly considered informing Joe that, though the Progresso brand has some Italian roots, it is in fact a subsidiary of General Mills and operates out of Vineland, New Jersey. But here is where my friend and I part ways in the social skills department: I kept my mouth shut and simply said that I would be happy to share his recipe with all of you, if only he would be so kind as to forward it to me.

Actually, I may have made a crack about throwing some Red Sauce on his precious hummus, and how that might get it to belong on this “Italo-centric” blog. 

Okay, so I did. 

But he started it!

Joe’s “Italian” Hummus



1 can chickpeas (I prefer the 19-ounce Progresso version)
3 tablespoons of drained chickpea juices
1/4 cup tahini (I prefer the Roland brand in the white container)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic run through a garlic press or minced
2 tables EV olive oil
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1) Drain the chickpeas, retaining at least three tablespoons of the juice in which they are packed. Then rinse the chickpeas well.

2) In the bowl of a food processor, add the lemon juice and tahini. Process for about a minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl and add one tablespoon of the reserved chickpea juices. Process for another minute. This step will ensure that your hummus will be smooth and that the tahini will be evenly distributed.

3) Add olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne. Process for about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add another tablespoon of the reserved chickpea juices and process for 30 seconds.

4) Add about half the drained and rinsed chickpeas. Process for a minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Add the other half of the chickpeas. Process for another 1-2 minutes.

5) Add another tablespoon of the reserved chickpea juices. Process until smooth and mixture is at your desired consistency.

Joe’s note

I’ve tried dried and cooked chickpeas and canned chickpeas. Really can’t tell the difference. I’ve also skinned the chickpeas, an annoying and time-consuming act. Can’t tell the difference from when I haven’t shelled them.

Pasta and chickpeas

20 Oct
The vegetarian crowd is gonna dig this, I think.
(You with me here, Mavis? Kitty? How about you, Miss Glodes?)
Not only are chickpeas high in protein, meaning that this is a pretty damned solid dinner entree nutrition-wise. But it’s also a super tasty and satisfying dish. A lot more so than those bland-as-hell (afterthought) pasta concoctions that I see so many restaurants passing off as legitimate menu choices for non-meat eaters.
No kidding, I am craving a bowl of this stuff right now. It really is that good.
Almost as appealing is how easy it is to make. All I did was prepare an aglio y olio sauce, but with a good dose of hot pepper and, of course, the chickpeas. Hell, I even used the canned chickpeas, that’s how fast it all came together.
I keep telling you people that I am a simpleton. Perhaps now you will believe me.
Pasta and chickpeas
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 anchovy fillets
1 hot pepper, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 lb. rigatoni (or pasta of your choice)
1/2 cup (or more) well-salted pasta water, reserved from rigatoni
In a large pot of well-salted water, cook the pasta until almost done (remember to reserve some of the water).
Saute the garlic, anchovy and pepper in an ample amount of the oil until soft.
Add the chickpeas and saute until warmed through, about five minutes.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan, as well as the 1/2 cup of water, and cook at a high heat for about two minutes more, then serve.

The garden grows

7 Jul

I don’t know about where you live, but gardening here in Maine last year was pure hell. When it didn’t rain it looked like it would. The ground was so wet, and for so long, that slugs and snails had the run of the place practically all summer long. A lot of people just gave up. Others threatened to, or wished they had.

Mercifully this summer is shaping up to be a good one. I have two plots at an organic community garden, totaling just shy of 300 square feet of growing space. After being away for a few days I discovered a lot going on. Here are some pics.

This is the first artichoke to show up. It’s the crop I’m most excited about. I have nine plants this year, twice as many as last.

Winters are too cold here for fig trees, so I potted one. The plan is to keep the tree small by pruning it heavily each year; and I’ll overwinter it in the garage, which I insulated last summer.

This is a first for me: cardoons. Looks just like an artichoke plant, as they’re closely related in the thistle family, but there’s no fruit here, just edible stalks.

The fava beans are way ahead of last year. Think it’ll be an early crop.

The chickpeas are also a first for me. Very cool-looking pods. Can’t wait to see how they turn out.

That’s it for now. More to come throughout the season, I’m sure.