Like Peas in a Pod: Orecchiette with Pancetta and Fresh Green Chickpeas

While we’re talking about fleeting seasonal produce, let’s talk about chickpeas. I mean, not what you think of as farm-fresh, right? Usually, I shake them out of a can, rinse, and proceed. I never even thought of what they might look like before canning.

But there they were, sitting pretty at the market: fresh, unshelled garbanzos. They look a bit like fuzzy edamame pods, stuffed full with chubby chickpeas. (Two per pod, usually.)

I had to have them. (I think you’ve heard that one before.)

Fresh chickpeas are delightful raw: a bit crispy, a bit sweet, tasting of green sweet peas almost as much as they remind you of the garbanzos you know and love. If you find them at your market, make sure to eat a few raw while you’re popping them out of their pods. Or, eat all of them that way.

That’s where the novelty is; I have to be honest. Once cooked into a pasta dish, I’m not sure these tasted that much different than my usual canned ones. They have a slightly better texture, and a slight sweetness, but I’m not sure that’s worth the trouble.

Not that this wasn’t delicious—it was rich and salty and savory and filling. Who would turn down pancetta and garlicky pasta, stirred with enough pasta water to make the sauce silken? Not you or me, we’re like two peas…

Orecchiette with Pancetta and Green Chickpeas
Serves 2

1 1/2 lb green chickpeas in pods
2 slices pancetta, diced
5 small cloves garlic
1 small yellow onion
a splash of olive oil

1/2 lb dry orecchiette pasta
parmesan for serving

Remove chickpeas from their pods and discard pods. Bring water for pasta to a boil. Meanwhile, put pancetta in a dutch oven, turn heat to medium low, and let render while you peel and smash garlic and dice onion. Add chickpeas, garlic cloves, and onion to pancetta, along with a splash of olive oil. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes.

Cook pasta until very al dente, about one minute shorter than package directions, then reserve 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water and drain pasta. Add pasta and reserved cooking water to dutch oven, cooking and stirring until liquid evaporates, the sauce thickens, and the pasta is tender. Serve with parmesan and freshly ground pepper.

In chickpeas, pasta

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