Chef and food writer Tamar Adler's version of this simple, traditional Tuscan dish is a revelation. It demonstrates that canned beans can be transformed with further cooking and a healthy pour of olive oil.
This technique creates a chunky but velvety sauce that clings to the pasta, or, in Adler's words, is "completely devoted to it."
Servings: 2 - 3
- 15 ounces (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups) canned, no-salt-added chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, cut into thin slices
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces dried pasta in shapes, such as penne, orecchiette, farfalle or elbow macaroni
Drain the chickpeas in a colander, then rinse them for a minute.
Heat the oil in a small, deep pot over medium-low heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Stir in the garlic and reduce the heat to low; cook until the garlic has softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, a pinch of salt and enough water to barely cover the chickpeas. Increase the heat to medium, so the liquid is barely bubbling around the edges.
Cook uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, adding small amounts of water as needed to keep the beans barely moistened. Taste five of the chickpeas; if any of them are not completely velvety inside, cook them a bit longer until all the chickpeas are quite tender. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Season with pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt and the pasta; cook according to the package directions. Just before you drain the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Stir about 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water into the chickpeas; this liquid should become integrated fairly quickly.
Combine the still-warm pasta and the chickpeas and any of their remaining liquid in a mixing bowl, stirring vigorously enough to help form a creamy sauce. If the mixture seems dry, or if the creamy chickpeas aren't sticking to the pasta, add more of the pasta cooking water and stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Eat one serving hot; reserve the rest for another day, to enjoy cold or rewarmed.
Adapted from Adler's "An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy and Grace" (Scribner, 2011).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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