Chick Peas…they are NOT just for Hummus!!  No disrespect to Hummus, it’s a delicious and amazingly healthy and filling treat.  I think though that Hummus really introduced many to their first taste of a chick pea, unless you were Italian, Middle Eastern, North African..basically from Mediterranean ancestry or culture..Indian,  yes there are many places where the Chick Pea flourished. Not so much in the U.S. Till Hummus.  Ok, but I’m going to take you today to where my first recollection of eating Chick peas was, at my kitchen table.  First of all I didn’t know that the thing people called Chick Peas was the same as the CECI that we ate in our home, regularly.  Italians call them CECI, or in dialect, Cecira, or Cicidda.  Garbanzo Beans?  WTH??  Ok, there were cans of them in the grocery store under the GOYA label but it took me a while to put it all together and realize they all were the same thing..a chick pea!    Who doesn’t love a Falafel!

That mash of chick peas and spices fried in small balls and then stuffed into a pita with vegetables?  Or a Panelle?  A chick pea flour square fried and served in a soft roll with caciocavallo and ricotta cheeses?  See???  It’s not just hummus..they also are great tossed cooked and warm or cold into salads, with pasta (Pasta e Ceci is a staple of the old school Southern Italian Diet)..they are also wonderful roasted with spices, or dry roasted (a bag of them is a must while walking thru the Feast of San Gennaro in NYC, very old school)..but , as usual, I digress.  The most common way we had Ceci growing up was in a sort of tomato “stew”…not a soup, not a side dish per se, something in between.
At this point you should be as confused as I am.  Anyway, here is my recipe:

2 14 1/2 oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
2 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano (try to find the Sicilian or Greek Oregano that come dried in a bunch)
pinch of peperoncino (red hot dried pepper flakes)
1/2 can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine (remember, something you enjoy drinking, not cooking wine)
kosher salt to taste
1 1/2 cups cleaned baby arugula

Let’s cook.

In a heavy saucepan heat the olive oil then add the peperoncino and 1/2 the oregano, 1/2 tsp of salt…then the garlic.  Cook until the garlic is just ready to take on color, about 1 minute or so, then add the chickpeas and completely coat with the oil and garlic, let this cook, stirring frequently for about 3 add everything else except the arugula.  Stir.  taste, add a little salt at this point if necessary. Let this simmer for 15 minutes.  Now add the arugula and continue cooking for 10 minutes more.  Don’t let it get dry, if that happens add a little more wine. Keeping it at simmer should prevent that from happening.Let it sit for a good 10 minutes before serving.  This will be a nice entree for 5-6, or side dish for 7-8.
Serving suggestion (ok, i never suggest anything, this is how i think you better be doing it…lol..) a bowl. with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of peperoncino, a grating of Pecorino Romano, and pinch of oregano.    Now you are eating like A FOOD OBSESSION eats and ate while growing up.
Enjoy!  Great for Vegetarians too  (I guess vegans too if you don’t use the cheese).



    1. a food obsession Post author

      that’s a GREAT way to eat them…for many Italian feasts you can buy a little paper bag of them, salted and roasted till crunchy…a sentimental treat. Thanks for your support chefbirdsong!


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