This unusual and simple pasta dish is one of my favorites. There’s a bit of Moorish influence in the Italian kitchen, and the Abruzzo kitchen is no exception. That means you find curry sometimes where you’d never expect it. This is one such dish.
Abruzzese cooking often adds vodka as a kind of binder, also where you’d not quite expected it. That’s here, too.
Olive oil (3/4 -1 cup)
Onions (two large yellow, chopped coarsely)
Garlic (4 large cloves, chopped)
Ceci (aka chick peas) one can or bottle, preferably organic, drained and rinsed
Rigatoni (1/2 box)
Curry powder (about 4 tbsp.)
Vodka (small glass)
Salt to taste (Italians are pretty liberal with the salt, which suits me just fine.)
A little hot red pepper if you’re so inclined
Leftover pasta water (about 3/4 cup)
Parsley or basil, chopped, for dressing
Saute onions in olive oil until a bit browned. Add curry powder and a little water and salt and stir. After a minute, add ceci and half the garlic and stir well. Add vodka. Let cook for a few minutes. I add half the garlic early, half toward the end of cooking. That way, it melts into the sauce but doesn’t completely disappear.
Meanwhile, boil pasta until al dente and drain, reserving 3/4-1 cup of the pasta water.
Add pasta and pasta water to the ceci pan, toss, and allow to heat for about a minute. Check for salt, add a little hot pepper, and serve. The curry and vodka will create a light, glazy sauce that coats the pasta and ceci nicely. Some of the ceci will find its way inside the tubes of pasta, too. Dress with chopped herbs.
Note: Use a scissors to chop the herbs; it's much easier. (Oh, the genius of Italian cooks.)