Tagliolini with chickpeas

Tagliolini with chickpeas

Tagliolini con ceci

Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

This is a version of pasta e ceci, which is, in turn, a relative of pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans). Pasta and legumes are a classic, wonderfully starchy and comforting combination that you can find in many regions, from Tuscany going southwards. As with many homecooked favourites, pasta e ceci can take on many different guises: there are versions stained with tomato; others with chickpeas kept whole, such as alla romana; others with a portion of the chickpeas puréed (a third, half or three-quarters); those that are more like soup with a little pasta floating in it; and those made with short pasta.

This version cooks the pasta directly in the sauce. It does not involve the usual soffritto of chopped carrot, celery and onion, but is very simply flavoured with some garlic (a must) and rosemary. You could also add some anchovies, melted down in a little olive oil with the garlic, for some extra savouriness. I like making this with fresh egg pasta, such as tagliolini, because it cooks quickly, which works nicely with this sauce. But you could use regular dried pasta, too.

It goes without saying that with any dish as simple as this one, the quality of the ingredients is paramount – I cannot stress how important this is for the chickpeas (dried or tinned) and the final touch of olive oil, especially.


Quantity Ingredient
200g dried chickpeas
or 600g pre-cooked, tinned chickpeas
1 garlic clove
1 1 rosemary sprig
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, (if using tinned chickpeas), plus extra for serving
400g fresh tagliolini
or 320g dried pasta, such as linguine
1 handful finely grated pecorino or parmesan, (optional)


  1. If you’re using dried chickpeas, put them in a bowl covered with plenty of fresh cold water the night before and leave them to soak in the fridge. The next day, drain the soaked chickpeas and put them in a saucepan, cover with at least 3 cm of fresh water, add the garlic and rosemary, and simmer until the chickpeas are soft. Keep an eye on the chickpeas – scoop off any scum that rises to the top of the water, and top up with water if needed. Add salt to taste at the end.
  2. If using tinned chickpeas, pour the extra-virgin olive oil into a flameproof casserole dish or deep frying pan with the garlic clove and rosemary and let the oil infuse over low heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning the garlic and ensuring it doesn’t burn or colour too deeply. Add the chickpeas and enough water to cover by 3 cm, add a good pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the rosemary sprig and blend the chickpeas and the cooking liquid to make a smooth purée (if you prefer a bit of texture, you can set aside a third of the whole chickpeas before you do this). Pour back into the pan, season to taste and heat. Add enough extra water for it to be a creamy, quite fluid, but not too thick sauce – 500 ml should suffice.
  4. Once simmering, cook the tagliolini directly in the sauce until al dente. If using fresh pasta, this will only take about 5 minutes. If using dried pasta, cook it separately in a pot of water until half-cooked (use the packet instructions for timing), then add it to the sauce to finish cooking. If you need to top the sauce up with any water, you can use the pasta cooking water. Stir occasionally to ensure the pasta isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Let the pasta sit for a moment or two before serving as it will be piping hot. Allow it to cool just a little for the flavour to be at its best. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, then pour over your very best extra-virgin olive oil – a bright, peppery, green olive oil is the thing you need. If you like (I do), add a handful of grated pecorino or parmesan over the top.
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