Pasta e Ceci (aka pasta with chickpeas) combines small-shaped pasta with a light yet creamy chickpea sauce for a simple one-pot mid-week meal that’s impressively flavorful, packed with plant-based protein, ready in 30 minutes, and thoroughly hearty and satisfying!
Hearty Pasta with Chickpeas in under 30 Minutes!
On days when I’m looking for a quick, simple, and nutritious last-minute dinner idea, pasta/noodles come to the rescue. With options like 20-minute one-pot pasta, easy vegan pasta salad, veggie stir-fry noodles, and this pasta e Ceci (aka pasta with chickpeas), I’m never lacking for ideas for quick meals that are packed with flavor, nutrients, and -in this case- an impressive amount of plant-based protein!
I’ll admit that on days when my effort levels are at a bare minimum, I’ll occasionally just stir some hummus into cooked pasta and voilà—instant meal. Well, this pasta e Ceci recipe takes that idea and elevates it for a creamy chickpea pasta recipe that falls somewhere between a saucy pasta and brothy soup/stew!
Best of all, this Italian chickpea soup is a wonderfully cheap and filling comfort food made up primarily of pantry and kitchen staples and perfect for a last-minute dish to stop you from reaching for a takeout menu!
What is Pasta e Ceci?
Pasta e Ceci simply translated to ‘pasta with chickpeas’ and refers to a highly versatile Italian (Roman) pasta and chickpea dish in a seasoned broth/sauce. Some versions are soupy, some like stew, and some as a thicker saucy pasta dish (and some lie somewhere in-between). As far as I can tell, most versions start with a sautéed garlic and soffritto base, combined with chickpeas, broth, and a small-shaped pasta.
Other than that, versions of this Italian chickpea soup may also contain other vegetables or sometimes even meat/anchovies, so really, it’s the perfect dish to experiment with. For this version of pasta e Ceci, I’ve made a simple saucy vegan chickpea pasta dish, pureeing a portion of the chickpeas for a creamy sauce with tons of ‘body.’
- Pasta: I used dried ditalini pasta (use regular or gluten-free). However, any small-shaped pasta will work (like macaroni, rotelle, conchiglie, etc.). You could even use snapped spaghetti/linguine.
- Vegetable broth: You can use pre-prepared vegetable stock or make up the amount using stock tablets and water. Use reduced-sodium broth if preferred.
- Chickpeas: Use canned or cooked from dried (dried method in recipe notes).
- Soffritto: This Italian chickpea soup uses a classic soffritto combination of onion, celery, and carrot to create a flavorful base.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves and adjust the amount to personal taste.
- Seasonings: dried oregano, thyme, and rosemary (fresh rosemary and other herbs would also work well – adjusting the amount), as well as salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (adjusted to taste).
- Tomato paste: Use regular or double-concentrate tomato paste to add umami flavor and color to the chickpea stew.
- Vegan white wine: (optional) Use a dry white wine. Alternatively, you can use vegetable broth.
- Oil: Use the neutral cooking oil of your choice; olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc.
- Parmesan: vegan Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional).
Optional add-ins and recipe variations:
- Greens: Spinach, kale, and other greens are a simple and nutritious addition to the pasta e ceci. Kale will need a few minutes to soften. However, spinach can be stirred in at the very end to wilt.
- Other vegetables: This chickpea pasta dish is versatile, so you can experiment with several veggies. Peas, zucchini, leek, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. (Finely dice larger veggies and sauté with the soffritto).
- Tomato: While I’ve already added tomato paste to the sauce, you could increase the tomato flavor with a small (half) can of diced or crushed tomatoes. Add it at the beginning to allow the flavor to develop.
- ‘Meat’: To add even more protein to this pasta and chickpeas dish, you could add your favorite meat alternative. For example, vegan sausage and meatballs would work particularly well in this Italian chickpea soup.
- Infused olive oil: This pasta with garbanzo beans tastes wonderful when drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. However, to bump up the flavor by first infusing it. To do so, heat the oil with garlic and rosemary (and optionally red pepper flakes) until the garlic begins to brown.
Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.
How to Make Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)?
- First, prepare all the ingredients. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, mince the garlic, and dice the onion, carrot, and celery.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Then add the oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the onion, celery, and carrots.
- Cook the vegetables for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the garlic and sauté for a further minute.
- Stir in the tomato paste and then deglaze the pan with the wine (or veggie broth), scraping up any browned bits with your spoon/spatula. Also, add 1/3 to 1/2 of the chickpeas.
- Next, add the vegetable broth and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the pasta.
- Simmer until the pasta is al dente (this will vary based on what pasta shape you’re using and whether it’s gluten-free. Refer to the package instructions and reduce the time by one minute for al dente results).
- Meanwhile, add the remaining chickpeas to a blender (or use an immersion blender) along with 3-4 ladles of the pasta cooking water and blend until smooth.
- Pour the chickpea puree back into the pot, stir, taste, and adjust seasonings to taste. Then transfer to bowls, garnish with fresh herbs and optionally some vegan Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!
How to Make Ahead and Store
Make ahead: If you plan to use dried chickpeas, you can cook and store them for several days (in the fridge) or months (in the freezer) in advance.
Store: Allow the chickpea pasta stew to cool and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Note that the pasta will become softer/mushier the longer it sits.
Freeze: If you wanted to freeze it, it’s better to do so without the pasta (which becomes mushy upon thawing)- though you can experiment with and without. Either way, store this Italian chickpea soup in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating (and adding fresh pasta).
Reheat: Lightly reheat the pasta with garbanzo beans either in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through. You may need a splash of extra liquid (water, broth, or dairy-free milk) to bring back the creamy consistency, as the starches in the chickpeas will cause the sauce to thicken.
Recipe Notes and FAQs
- Can I substitute the chickpeas? It would be a bit odd to substitute the chickpeas in this chickpea pasta recipe. However, that’s not to say it can’t be done. In fact, I think this recipe would work well with white beans (like cannellini beans).
- Adjust the consistency: If you’d prefer a thinner chickpea stew, then add more broth.
- To avoid soggy pasta: You can cook and store the pasta noodles separately from the broth, however, the dish will turn out rather soupy. It can also help to use ‘bronze-cut’ Italian pasta, which retains its al dente texture easier than other varieties.
- To use dried chickpeas: You’ll need 1 cup (around 200 g) of dried chickpeas. First, soak them overnight in water, then rinse and simmer them on the stovetop with fresh water until tender (50-80 minutes / or about 15-20 minutes in the Instant Pot) – add a bay leaf to the water for extra flavor. You can even save the leftover cooking water (aquafaba) for other recipes.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
- Thai coconut noodle soup
- Garlic butter pasta
- Roasted red pepper pasta
- Creamy kale avocado pasta
- Vegan Alfredo pasta
- Garlic noodles (pasta aglio e olio)
You might also enjoy browsing through this collection of 16 vegan pasta recipes!
If you try this pasta e ceci recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan – I love seeing them.
Pasta e Ceci (Pasta With Chickpeas)
- 1 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Black pepper red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 medium (150 g) onion diced
- 2 stalks of (120 g) celery diced
- 1 1/2 cups (200 g) carrots diced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine (optional)
- 2 tbsp (50 g) tomato paste
- 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas rinsed and drained (divided)
- 5 cups (1200 ml) vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups (170 g) dried ditalini pasta regular or gluten-free (see notes)
- Fresh parsley to garnish
- Vegan Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 30 seconds, then add the onion, celery, and carrots.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and cook for a further one minute.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine (use veggie broth if you omit the wine) and stir in the tomato paste.
- Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the chickpeas (reserve the rest for later), and pour in the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and add the pasta.
- Cook over low-medium heat until the pasta is al dente (check the package directions and reduce the cooking time by one minute).
- Transfer the remaining chickpeas to a blender and add 3-4 ladles of the veggie broth. Blend until smooth (you can also use an immersion blender). Pour this mixture back to the pot and stir to combine.
- Serve in bowls, garnish with fresh herbs, and optionally, vegan Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
- You can use small-shaped pasta of choice like macaroni, rotelle, conchiglie, etc.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically