Recipe of the week: pasta and chickpeas with fennel and lemon

Pasta and chickpeas is a popular dish all over Italy, says Gennaro Contaldo.

The tang of lemon combines so well with earthy chickpeas, I often find myself squeezing extra juice over my portion. Make sure you start by softening the chickpeas the night before.

Serves four people

  • 200g dried chickpeas
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, left whole and squashed
  • 100g fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 20g wild fennel fronds, roughly chopped (optional)
  • thinly pared rind of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 1.8 litres water
  • 200g tagliatelle, broken into little pieces
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zested then quartered
  • Place the chickpeas in plenty of cold water with the bicarbonate of soda (this softens the chickpeas and speeds up cooking time) and soak overnight.
  • The next day, heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the carrots, garlic and fennel bulb and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Drain the chickpeas and stir in the wild fennel (if using) and lemon rind. Add the water, 1 unwaxed lemon, zested then quartered bring to the boil and simmer over a medium heat for about 2 hours until the chickpeas are cooked.
  • When cooked, season to taste, increase the heat, add the pasta – you may need a little more boiling water – and cook until the pasta is al dente.
  • Serve with parmesan, freshly grated lemon zest and the lemon quarters for squeezing.

Gennaro's Limoni book cover

Taken from Gennaro’s Limoni: Vibrant Italian Recipes Celebrating the Lemon by Gennaro Contaldo, available from The Week Bookshop for £20.


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