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Pasta e ceci


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling (optional)
  • 4 ounces (115 g) pancetta, finely diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • 1 cup (165 g) diced canned tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 can (15 ounces/430 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 to 4 cups (720 to 960 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 cup (120 g) ditalini
  • 5 cups (210 g) roughly chopped escarole, dandelion greens, or something else green and wiltable
  • Freshly grated pecorino cheese, for serving


  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not taking on any colour, for four to five minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes and cook one minute more. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the tomatoes and the chickpeas and stir to combine. With a spatula or the back of a spoon, crush about half a cup (90 g) of the chickpeas so they release some of their creamy texture into the sauce.
  4. Pour in three cups of the stock and turn the heat to medium-high; when it comes to a boil, add the ditalini. Cook, stirring frequently to make sure the pasta is not sticking to the bottom of the pan until the pasta is just short of al dente, about eight minutes.
  5. Turn down the heat to medium. Add the escarole and the reserved pancetta to the pot and cook until the greens are wilted, one to two minutes more. The pasta will absorb most of the stock, so feel free to add half a cup to one cup (60 to 120 ml) of the remaining chicken stock if you prefer a brothier stew—it’s up to you.
  6. Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheese and a drizzle of more olive oil if you please. Enjoy! 

Reprinted with permission from Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food by Colu Henry, Abrams Books. 2022. Photo credit: Tara Donne. 

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