Ciceri e Tria
(Long simmered chickpea soup with pasta two ways)
Although far less famous abroad than le orecchiette, this is actually the most beloved dish of the Salento. It’s a brothy, rib-sticker of dish, more like a hearty stew than your average pasta soup. You’d never put cheese on this. Nor would you want to add any meat whatsoever, the fried pasta was originally meant to mimic the texture of meat, back when there was so little of it going around in our neck of the woods.
Carrots, cut once lengthwise
Onions, cut across the equator
Celery ribs, cut crosswise once
Chilli pepper flakes
Hard durum wheat flour
Soak the chickpeas overnight. Change the water. Rinse. Place the chickpeas in a large pot and cover with water twice over. Add the vegetables, salt and chilli. Simmer, covered, until tender, from 2 to 10 hours, depending on the date of harvest (you won’t know that, so plan to cook ahead a few hours).
Meanwhile, make the pasta, by mixing roughly 30% barley flour to 70% hard durum wheat flour and then add water until you reach pasta consistency. Roll out thinner than a piecrust but thicker than egg pasta. Cut into Band-Aid-size shapes, like 3-inch snips of pappardelle or sticks of gum. Dry a few hours.
Take a third of the pasta and fry in small batches, in extra virgin olive oil.
Regulate water and bring the chickpeas to a boil again and add the raw pasta. Taste and adjust for salt and chilli pepper. Cook until tender, around 3 minutes. Decide whether or not to fish out the vegetables from the broth. Add the fried pasta, the chopped parsley and a good glug of raw oil. Serve in bowls. Supply helmets if the Salentini start to swoon.
Wine: Nothing says ‘lovin’ like Negroamaro with this recipe.