My birthday is fast approaching and so my mother has already brought over my annual gift bag. (For her, a gift is late if it isn’t two weeks early.) The goodie bag included the usual Mass card which assures that hundreds of nuns will pray for me every Sunday for the next year. In addition, this year there was a t-shirt that reads, “Smart, good looking, and Italian, it just doesn’t get any better than this.” I’m sure that it’s standard issue for all Italian mothers.
Is it any wonder that the average Italian male lives at home until the age of 35?
Of course, most cubs eventually do leave the den, and when they do, they are prepared to take on the world. By “prepared,” I’m not suggesting any sort of domestic or emotional skills, but rather only the ability to feed themselves well. The following recipe, along with some basic training, will allow the average good looking, smart, Italian male to survive without mamma in this cruel world. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
If using dried chick peas, soak them overnight in abundant water. In the morning, drain them, add to a large saucepan, and cover with fresh water that clears them by a few inches. Gently boil over medium-low heat for 2 hours or until tender but not mushy. Drain and reserve until needed for pasta.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook together until the ingredients are light golden. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Add the chickpeas, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook the pasta until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package directions), drain, and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and its water to the chickpea mixture and cook for one minute.
Serve with grated Parmigiano.