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
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Victoria Granof’s Pasta con Ceci
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
good tomato paste
kosher salt, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups
cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
uncooked ditalini pasta (or another small shape, like macaroni)
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.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.