When made traditionally, Pasta e Ceci is “accidentally vegan,” although many people finish the dish with some Parmesan cheese. This is a really simple dish that will only dirty one pot, and comes together in about 20 minutes. The garlicky, spicy sauce gets its added richness from the liquid in the canned chickpeas (also known as aquafaba). If you prefer to cook your own chickpeas for this recipe, feel free – just follow the note in the recipe to make sure you aren’t missing out on any flavor.
Violife and Follow Your Heart both make really good vegan Parmesans that can be found in Whole Foods Market and most other well-stocked grocery stores.
Vegan Pasta e Ceci
Thanks to aqua faba, this dairy-free sauce is thick and creamy. This pasta is served like a stew, so expect extra sauce – perfect to sop up with bread. Feel free to add your favorite herbs, this recipe is just a framework for the simplest version possible.
Servings: 2 people
- A large, heavy-bottomed pot
- 4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup tomato paste can use 1 cup crushed tomatoes instead
- 1 tsp kosher salt or to taste, up to 2 tsp
- 2 cups water might need a bit more, see instructions
- 1 (15oz) can chickpeas drained, but reserve the liquid
- 6 oz uncooked pasta
- fresh herbs or greens optional, see note
- vegan Parmesan cheese optional
- Over a medium flame, heat the olive oil in the pot.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring often so it doesn't burn. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and golden.
- Stir in the tomato paste and salt, cook for another minute.
- Pour the chickpea liquid (aqua faba) into a measuring cup, and add water until you have 3 cups of liquid. Add this to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Add the pasta and chickpeas, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the pasta is cooked to al dente. Some cooks like to smash some of the chickpeas with a spoon while they stir, this is optional.
- It should look like stew – the sauce will thicken and the water will be absorbed by the pasta. If you prefer it loose, add a splash of water.
- If adding herbs, greens and/or cheese, turn the heat off and stir them in. You want your herbs or greens to wilt and/or the cheese to melt.
- Spoon into bowls and top with more crushed red pepper (optional). Serve with a nice, crusty bread.
Fresh basil, escarole, Tuscan kale or radicchio are all nice green additions you can make at the end – but just choose one to keep the flavors pure. Some people like to go easier on the garlic, and add some chopped yellow onion during the first steps. Fresh rosemary can also be a tasty addition to throw in with the garlic and red pepper flakes. If you prefer to cook your own chickpeas, use 1 cup vegetable broth, plus two cups of water for the liquid. If you’re using canned chickpeas, be mindful of the salt content of the liquid, this sauce can easily get too salty.