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Tasty Tidbits E-zine, Issue #003 - Ahh! Italia!
February 25, 2010

Ahh the beauty of traveling Italy.

Buon Giorno,!

Have you ever travelled to Italy? Do you dream of doing it someday? I don't blame you. I've had the distinct advantage of visiting the beautiful peninsula over a dozen times in my lifetime. In fact, my very first trip there I learned to walk. (I had just turned 1) So, needless to say - it is one of my favorite places in the world to be!

There are many reasons why traveling to Italy is just sublime. Awesome architecture and artwork pretty much surround you wherever you go. The air is filled with the romantic sounds of Italian conversation floating about. And of course there is the food.

While visiting my grandparents in Calabria, we always have our fair share to eat. Lunch is of course, the most important meal for most Italians. Even in the summer time, our plates would be filled with hot noodles coated in chunky tomato sauce, or bowls of chicken soup with curling ribbons of steam that dissipated as they embraced the kitchen air.

One of my favorite things to eat: Chickpeas. Ceci in Italian. Here's a great chickpea recipe that my Nonna Maria would sometimes make.

Pasta e Ceci

Serves about 3-4.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • 1 cup Ditalini pasta (or you can substitute with 3/4 cups of rice instead)
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 ripe roma tomato, quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh or frozen parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • grated cheese of your choice

  • Rinse the soaked chickpeas and add to a medium sized pot of water. Turn the heat to high. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables, parsley and the salt (I usually add about a tsp here and then add some more later if it needs it). Once the pot boils, reduce the heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

    The best soup is that which is made over a couple hour time span. So, as long as you have time, let the soup simmer on low for as long as you can. This could range anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. When the chickpeas are nice and soft to bite into, turn the heat back up and allow the water to boil once more. Add the pasta and let cook according to the box directions (usually 7-9 minutes, depending on the variety). Turn off the heat and drop in the oil and pepper (if you are using it).

    (At this point you can remove the tomato peels, as most people don't like eating them. Also, if your family is not a fan of onions or garlic, you can add these to your pot whole therefor making them easier to remove just before serving.)

    Scoop into bowls and serve with a sprinkling of grated cheese. I like pecorino romano, but any hard salty cheese will do! Enjoy!

    Check out more recipes at Tasty-Italian-Cooking.com!

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