Victoria Granof’s Pasta con Ceci

January 4, 2017

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: It’s astonishing how much comfort you can derive—fast—out of basic ingredients you’ve used a thousand times. Here are the keys: First, you need to use all of the olive oil—it gives the soup substance and body, carries the other flavors, and makes up for the fact that you’re making an otherwise austere soup without a rich stock. As Granof says, “It’s what’ll make you think you’re on a balcony in Naples when you eat this.” Second, cook the garlic in the oil until it’s actually browned a bit, not simply softened. This makes the flavor toasty and nutty, and not bitter, despite what nonna might say. You can leave this as soupy or stewy as you like. Granof makes it for her son once a week. "I used to give him Parmesan rinds to teethe on, and when he no longer needed to teethe, I started throwing them in this pasta." Adapted slightly from Chickpeas by Victoria Granof (Short Stack Editions, 2015). Genius Recipes

Serves: 2
Cook time: 25 min


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 tablespoons good tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta (or another small shape, like macaroni)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
In This Recipe


  1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until it becomes lightly browned and fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and salt and fry for 30 seconds or so. Add the chickpeas, pasta, and boiling water. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. To serve, ladle the pasta into shallow bowls, sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes, and drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil on top.

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Reviews (70) Questions (1)

70 Reviews

EmFraiche February 25, 2019
Loved this! So simple. I used one cup of chickpea cooking liquid and a cup of water that I’d used to rehydrates some dried ancho chilies a few days ago which gave a really nice but subtle smoky flavor. 🤗
Aviva February 5, 2019
Ok, first of all, this recipe is delicious. It is true alchemy that this handful of ingredients can make such a rich and satisfying meal. For me, however, it’s a bit starch heavy, so when I make it again in a couple of days, I will probably halve the beans and starch. I dont know if I simmered mine too long, b/c it seemed that the amount of broth wasn’t enough for all that starch.
Felicia G. January 8, 2019
I'm an Italian-Hungarian raised by a Hubgarian Mom who learned to cook at the stove of my Italian grandmother. Ours was not a household of goulash and stuffed cabbage, but lasagna, Sunday Sauce and Homemade Meatballs. Friday night meals were laid back and meatless. Over my 62 years I've eateb many a bowl of Chickpeas and Ditalini. Its a staple in Italian households and tacky for someone named Victoria Granof to infer that its a recipe of her own conjuring.
Susan B. November 4, 2018
Like many others, I have made this several times. I cook my chickpeas from dried, then use the liquid from the chickpeas to boil the pasta, topped off with chicken broth as needed. I almost always use orecchiette, as someone else mentioned it traps the chickpeas perfectly. In doubling the recipe, however, I use much more pasta than called for - two cups, instead of the one cup a strictly doubled recipe would use. That means some extra liquid is needed too. It heartily feeds my family of three, with some nice leftovers for lunches the next day. Next time I have to remember to add some finely chopped anchovies when I cook the garlic!
Maggie September 9, 2018
I've enjoyed this several times - it's a wonderful make-ahead for lunches. Sometimes I use a little chunk of butter in the beginning rather than olive oil (and keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn) - it completely changes the flavor. This time of year, I also dice a zucchini and saute it a little before I add the garlic, and I always toss a couple of handsful of chopped spinach close to the end (or a little earlier if frozen).

If using canned chickpeas, open the can before you start and taste one - if they're a little too firm for your taste, simmer them in their liquid in a separate saucepan alongside the skillet until it's time to add them (or, if you have some kind of pan-washing phobia and/or time on your hands, simmer them in the skillet, remove them, then proceed).

If I could give this recipe 17 stars, I would!
dona September 9, 2018
I absolutely love this stuff! Admittedly, it was hard to use all the olive oil without guilt, and I did question just smashing and not chopping the garlic, but it all works. The epitome of "comfort food."
Lauren D. August 7, 2018
Great, easy weeknight meal that my family loves. We serve ours alongside a salad and some warm crusty bread.
Amy July 1, 2018
I could have sworn that the recipe had called for double-strength concentrated tomato paste at one time. I've never used it before and I bought it specifically for this recipe. Someone over a year ago referenced this also when discussing the tomato paste. Could there have been an editor's note at one time? I dearly love this recipe and am going to continue making it using the concentrated tomato paste but I wonder if anyone could solve this little mystery of mine. *sigh*
EmFraiche February 26, 2019
I just saw on America’s Test Kitchen’s Instagram review of tomato paste that the double strength paste is cooked a bit longer than what is in the cans, but their taste testers couldn’t tell a difference between the concentrated paste and the regular. I think you could use either in this recipe and it would come out fine. I used double strength in the amount called for in the recipe and it was delicious. 🙂
juwu_eats June 29, 2018
made this yesterday.
I found that it lacked a bit of flavour, so it needed some seasoning corrections with a little pinch of sugar, some bayleaves and oregano.
all in all, a good recipe. One pot weeknight wonder <3
Gianna March 12, 2018
This is known as Pasta Fagioli..
juwu_eats June 28, 2018
Fagioli are beans
Ceci are chickpeas/garbanzo beans
Trish January 9, 2019
Nope. Not even close.
Brittany C. February 5, 2018
I added peppers and some chicken and it was delicious!! Will definitely be making this again. Thank you for putting together this recipe
Beckypj January 4, 2018
Simple and delish! I tried with gluten free noodles. The noodles take up more water/liquid so be sure to adjust for that. It was a hit!
Joan January 3, 2018
My mother's exact recipe from Abbruzzi! Delicioso!
Fran M. January 2, 2018
Peas & pasta
I make a dish that’s quick & easy. It’s a go to recipe.
Sauté an onion, throw in a can of peas with the water, An 8oz. Can of tomato sauce a hand full of any pasta. Some parmigiana cheese. Cook until the pasta is cooked and eat. One pot.
FrugalCat January 2, 2018
Are you using green peas or chick peas?
Fran M. February 16, 2018
Great peas
Fran M. February 16, 2018
Green peas
Gianna March 12, 2018
Should be chick peas.
Jennifer S. January 1, 2018
This reminds me of Spaghetti-Os, only for grown-ups. It was delicious!
Gianna March 12, 2018
Oh good heavens...mush canned spaghetti-o's? Noooo
Jennifer O. December 31, 2017
Ok, I'm a lazy cook... I'll admit it. But this recipe... this recipe is a lazy cook's DREAM. So easy. So quick. So good!! I made the recipe as written with every intention of eating half and putting the leftovers in the fridge. Couldn't.Stop.Eating.It. :)
Gregory S. December 24, 2017
This is an awesome recipe. My picky daughters favorite. Delicious as is, or I add some fresh rosemary or thyme if available. So simple and delicious.
Sabra November 27, 2017
This really is the perfect dinner when you need something delicious on the table very quickly. For four people I use the entire small can of tomato paste, a couple more cloves of garlic, the whole can of chickpeas-including the liquid (I think it adds to the body of the soup). and 4-5 chickpea cans of cold water. As someone else mentioned, a Parmesan rind tossed into the pot adds great flavor. I bring everything to a low boil, add one cup of ditalini, and cook until the pasta is al dente. Sometimes I’ll chop about three large handfuls of fresh baby spinach and add it in to simmer for the last five minutes of cooking. And if I happen to have some on hand, a spoonful of ricotta makes a great topping for each serving.
Christina November 21, 2017

I add two chopped anchovies and two Tbsp. chopped pancetta to the garlic and then add 1 1/2 cups hand-crushed plum tomatoes in their juice. Chicken broth gives a richer flavor than water; a piece of Pecorino Romano rind added while the soup is covered and simmering ramps up the flavor. Grated cheese and a basil leaf or two to top off each serving.
Erika September 12, 2017
Are you supposed to cover it while simmering?
chase T. September 16, 2017
I don't... I just reduce the heat and leave it uncovered