Chef's Recipes

Ditali with chickpeas and smoked pancetta (Pasta ceci e pancetta affumicata)

A childhood recipe from Sarah Cicolini of acclaimed restaurant Santo Palato in Rome.

By Sarah Cicolini
  • 5 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 5 mins cooking plus soaking, cooling
  • Serves 4 - 6
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"I learnt this recipe from my grandmother," says Sarah Cicolini of acclaimed trattoria Santo Palato in Rome. "She would make this classic soup with pancetta leftover from charcuterie plates. I add dried sweet peppers, but you can also use dried chilli flakes." Start this recipe a day ahead to soak the chickpeas.

Ingredients

  • 200 gm dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise
  • 180 ml (¾ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 180 gm smoked pancetta (see note) or pancetta, cut into 5mm dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 200 gm dried ditali
  • Dried chilli flakes, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to serve

Method

  • 1
    Drain chickpeas and transfer to a large saucepan. Add twice the volume of water as the chickpeas, then add onion, carrot and leek. Bring to the boil and cook until tender (30 minutes). Season to taste, then cool (40 minutes). Drain, discarding vegetables and reserving cooking water.
  • 2
    Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add pancetta, garlic, tomatoes and paprika, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until pancetta is browned (about 5 minutes). Add chickpea cooking water (about 800ml) and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat, then add chickpeas and return to a simmer. Cook for another 15 minutes, add ditali, season to taste, then add dried chilli flakes to taste. Cook until ditali is just short of al dente (3 minutes less than cooking time on packet). Remove from heat and cover for 3 minutes to finish cooking. Serve topped with black pepper to taste.

Notes

Smoked pancetta is available from select Italian delicatessens.
Drink suggestion: Nutty amber ale. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.