Adam has cooked for me a few times. There was soup once when I was sick. There were also some sandwiches here and there which, even though that’s not technically “cooking,” I will count because, somehow, a sandwich always tastes better when somebody else makes it for you.
The first time, it was spaghetti. Things started out well enough. Boil some water, add some noodles. Hard to go wrong. But it went downhill after that. He got a jar of spaghetti sauce, unscrewed the lid, and poured the sauce, straight from the jar, onto my plate. He then dropped some noodles on top of the sauce and, to top things off, added some chickpeas. The chickpeas, like the sauce, were unwarmed, and it’s possible they came straight from the can. I’ve worked hard to forget some of the gorier details, so it’s hard now to say for sure.
Because of this incident, I always thought of spaghetti and chickpeas as a sort of ridiculous combination. I ignored Adam’s future requests to add chickpeas to my pasta dishes. But eventually I saw Rachael Ray make Spaghetti alla Ceci, and I reconsidered the issue. Not only did Rachael warm the chickpeas, but she made them a fully incorporated part of the sauce. This was something I could handle. I made the dish.
I now rescind any earlier contempt I showed toward spaghetti and chickpeas. I was wrong. When it’s done right, it’s fabulous. A little wine, some garlic, a pinch or two of red pepper flakes—delicious! I’m not usually too big a fan of spaghetti and tomato sauce because I think it can be boring, but this dish definitely is not. It’s been added to my regular rotation, which isn’t something that happens very often.
Spaghetti alla Ceci
Adapted from Rachael Ray’s Spaghetti all Ceci
1/2 pound spaghetti*
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Pino Grigio)
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chopped parlsey
Grated parmesan, for serving
Cook spaghetti to al dente in salted boiling water.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and onion and sauté until onions begin to soften; add crushed red pepper flakes and garlic. Place chickpeas in food processor and pulse them to a fine chop. Add chickpeas to pan and season them with thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook for one minute, then stir in tomatoes and adjust seasoning. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Top with parsley and grated cheese.*I really like spaghetti rigati for this dish. The chickpeas make the sauce thick and a bit chunky, and those ridges really help hold the extra weight.