- 1 rounded cup dried ceci (chickpeas)
- 4 cups chicken stock (32 ounces)
- 2 cups water or 2 addutional cups chicken stock
- 2 onions, 1 halved and 1 peeled and chopped, divided
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for drizzling
- 1/4 pound pancetta, speck or guanciale, diced
- 2-3 ribs celery, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
- 2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped
- 1 small chili pepper, finely chopped or 1 scant teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound mezze rigatoni or mezze penne (Buon Italia), ditalini or other short cut pasta
- 1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/2 cup additional chicken stock
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Soak the beans in water for 4 hours or overnight. Rinse the beans and place in a pot; cover with stock and water. Add the halved onion and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat a bit and simmer at a rapid bubble for 35-40 minutes, until tender. Remove the bay leaf and onion and puree half the beans and half their stock.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO, four turns of the pan. Add the chopped pancetta and render for 2-3 minutes, then add the chopped onion, celery, carrots, rosemary, thyme, garlic and chili pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables, partially covered, to soften, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. When water is boiling, salt it, drop the pasta and cook to al dente.
- While the pasta is working, stir the tomato paste into the vegetables until fragrant, if using. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add the bean puree and the whole beans with the stock; stir to combine.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water and add to the sauce. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce, parsley and cheese.
- Serve in shallow bowls topped with a drizzle of EVOO. Pass more cheese at table.
Cooking with alcohol enhances the flavors of certain dishes. Some of the alcohol burns off in the process of cooking. If you are concerned about using alcohol when you cook, you may use the appropriate substitute listed in the ingredients.