- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4
- 2 tablespons butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 head fennel greens
- 1–16 ounce can ceci (chickpeas/garbanzo beans)
- 8 ounces ditalini (or other small pasta)
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly grated black pepper, to taste
- 1 peperoncini (crushed red pepper, to taste – optional)
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, for garnish
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- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter into the oil. Saute the garlic until golden. (Add red pepper. ) Add the chickpeas and saute for a few minutes, stirring often. Add chopped fennel greens and mix well.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the ditalini until al dente. Drain, retaining a cup of the cooking water.
- Add to chick pea mix with a little pasta water. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano.
Italians love to complain about life in Italy. It's a national pastime. But come on, they all know that they're living in the land of Dante, Michelangelo, and DaVinci, and the Pope, Armani and Ferragamo, and carbonara, mozzarella, and gelato. So they can complain all they want, but they're not getting any sympathy from me. I'll take their bloated bureaucracy and traffic jams any day if they come along with a slice of prosciutto and a chunk of Parmigiano.
The same wasn't true 100 years ago, when six million left the country, including my relatives, in the days before cappuccino and cornetti were readily available for breakfast. Back then la cucina povera was really la cucina povera.
But thankfully for all of us, they brought their cooking skills with them. This Sicilian recipe was a spring special of my grandfather's cousin Filippina Garrubbo, especially prepared for St. Joseph's Day (and passed on to me by my dad's cousin, Phyliss Loria Bonnano.)
They say "the grass is always greener," but when it comes to food, the grass really is greener on the other side.