Wednesday, 4 November 2015

What Shell We Have for Supper?

Lumache con Ceci Rossi, Zucca, Rosmarino & Ricotta Salata
Pasta Shells with Red Chickpeas, Squash, Rosemary & Salted Ricotta
I like to make quick and simple meals as you know- but sometimes, even the simple dishes, like this one, can take a little bit longer, depending on the ingredients. So, yes, this dish did take a little longer to prepare, as I decided to used dried, red chickpeas, which needed to be soaked overnight and to boil for a good hour... 

Now- for regular chickpeas? I wouldn't bother! Chickpeas are one of the few products that I happily buy in cans- but these little beauties are also a little different!
I will be honest and say this much... that it really is only worthwhile going to the effort of soaking and cooking these chickpeas for so long if you are making them for a a couple of people or more, and that I WOULD buy them in a can if I could... but I can't! Haha!

They are a little nuttier in flavor, a little firmer in consistency and a little less "floury" or "mealy" to bite into- which are all good things! And combined with sweet butternut squash, savory rosemary and salty ricotta, they made for a wonderfully delicious, rustic pasta dish... healthy, satisfying, delicious and... different!
You will need... well... not much, per person when you prepare this dish- except for the aforementioned prep-time that is!

Otherwise, all it takes is 1 shallot, 1 handful of red chickpeas, 1 cupful of grated squash (butternut in this case, although any will do), 1-2 sprigs of rosemary, a little fresh parsley, salted ricotta for grating, salt, pepper, olive oil and your pasta of choice.
One little trick that I used was that I not only soaked the chickpeas overnight, but I also boiled them for a good 30-40 minutes this morning before setting off for work. Yes indeed... I let them simmer away whilst I enjoyed my morning coffee and got ready for work. And I recommend you do the same. 

If you are going to go to the trouble of traditionally soaking them overnight, to cook the next evening- well go ahead and start cooking them in advance too! This way, I was actually finished with the preparation for my supper in just 40 minutes or so come suppertime. Plus- beans and peas and lentils and legumes always seem to taste better when they are reheated, don'tcha know!
This is the way those tiny, dark and dusty-looking chickpeas look after their beauty-bath overnight... pretty wonderful, don't you think?

Start them boiling before you begin with the preparation of the other ingredients or boiling the pasta and you are going to be ahead of the game.
Saute the shallot and rosemary together to flavor your olive oil in advance.
Whilst your chickpeas gently simmer, grate your squash, finely chop the shallot and the rosemary and bring your water to the boil for your pasta. 

After your chickpeas have been on the stovetop and simmering away for 20 minutes or so, you can begin with the cooking of the other ingredients. Once the shallot becomes translucent and starts to brown slightly you can add the squash.
Fry together for 4-5 minutes, then add the chickpeas. At the same time, start your pasta boiling, making sure to season well with a good pinch of salt.
Let the pasta boil for just 5 minutes or so and then add it to the frying pan with plenty of the water it was boiling in. Continue the cooking process together with the other ingredients on a medium heat, for a further 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all of the moisture has been absorbed. the squash has almost liquified and become a sauce and everything is smoothly blended together.
Serve with a good sprinkle of finely chopped parsley, a little grated salted ricotta and plenty of freshly ground pepper... and of course a nice last drizzle of raw olive oil!
Stir it all together to discover the goodness of all of those flavors combined... it's just heavenly!

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