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Life’s a breeze with chickpeas

I hate when I'm on the treadmill (living my best life) and my hand accidentally hits the stop button, forcing me to get off and eat a bowl of pasta, tub of ice cream, and pack of doughnuts. It’s not easy keeping January resolutions.

It is, however, easy keeping to Veganuary thanks to this week’s recipe for tuoni e lampi.

This dish is somewhere between a soup and a pasta, with chickpeas as the main ingredient. It’s basically a hug in a bowl, and makes for a great vegan lunch or dinner.

This week’s album
xx by The xx

An incredible debut album. The vocals are great, but it’s the production and overall sound that is most impressive. One review said ‘It’s strange that such a traditional set-up (drums, bass, keys, guitars, voices) has resulted in one of 2009’s most unique debuts’. Perhaps more strange is that the instrumental intro is the band's most streamed track.

Thunder and lightning

Tuoni e lampi translates to ‘thunder and lightning’ (apparently something to do with the ‘storm’ the chickpeas can create during digestion). Also known as pasta e ceci (pasta with chickpeas), it’s commonplace in Italy but originates from Campania.

It’s not always vegan... Pancetta may be used to flavour the dish and, if you’re in Rome, there’s a good chance anchovies will be used at the start of cooking to dissolve into the ‘soffritto’.

This ‘soffritto’ is a fundamental part of the dish as it acts as the base upon which to build flavour. We’ve seen this in a number of our recipes already including ragù alla Bolognese, minestra, and Umbrian lentils with seabass, olives, and capers.

In order to bulk out a soup with cheap/readily available ingredients, it’s common practice in Italy to add pulses, pasta, rice, or bread. Here we're gonna add pasta, as well as tinned chickpeas.

We’ll use tinned for ease - you could always cook your own - but try find some high-quality ones. We’ll also add some basil right at the end for extra freshness.

Campania is a region in southwestern Italy, and home to the Amalfi Coast. Which makes this photo your monthly reminder to go there. Immediately, if not sooner.

What you need

The below serves 4-6. It takes 15 mins to prep, then 45 mins to cook.

2 400g tins cooked chickpeas
6 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion
(peeled & finely diced)
2 celery sticks (peeled & finely diced)
1 carrot (peeled & finely diced)
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1 tsp rosemary leaves (finely chopped)
1 tbsp tomato purée
½ tsp chilli flakes
Sea salt & black pepper
200g broken dried pasta
(or small pasta such as ditalini or stelline)
1 small packet basil (leaves picked and roughly torn)

Ready, steady, cook

1. Drain the chickpeas in a sieve and rinse well under running water.

2. Put a large saucepan on a medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion, celery, carrot, and a good pinch of salt. Sauté gently for 8-10 mins, or until very soft.

Add the garlic and rosemary (and chilli flakes if using) and continue to cook gently for another minute before adding the tomato purée. Stir through, leave to cook for a minute, then add the chickpeas, another pinch of salt, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

3. Add in 1.5 litres of water. Allow it to come to the boil before turning down to a simmer. Leave to cook (uncovered so it can start to reduce) for about 20 mins.

4. After 20 mins, use a ladle to transfer half the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth, and add the blended mixture back to the original pan. Return to a medium-high heat.

5. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the packet instructions for 'al dente'. Once cooked, check the seasoning and consistency. It should be a thick soup that beautifully coats the pasta.

6. Allow the ‘soup’ to sit for a few mins before adding the torn basil leaves. Divide between warmed bowls and, finally, drizzle with a little more extra-virgin olive oil.

Final thought

Vegans look away... This dish is great as is but, naturally, sprinkling over some grated parmesan is always welcome. You could also put in the rind from your parmesan when you add the water in step 3. This will impart a delicious umami note to the dish.

Same time next week,


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