Tria e ciceri (pasta with chickpeas) is a classic pasta dish from the Salento area of Puglia in Italy, and the signature dish for that area’s provincial capital Lecce. It is a wonderful example of cucina povera whose name reflects the historical influences in Puglia and southern Italy: tria is an old southern Italian word which derives from itriya, an Arabic word for pasta, while ciceri derives from cicer, the Latin for chickpea.
This dish is claimed to represent one of the oldest cooking traditions of the Salento area, with the Roman poet Horace singing the praises of a similar Apulian minestra consisting of chickpeas, leek and a type of lasagne around 30BC. Traditionally, the dish is associated with the Festa di San Giuseppe (Feast of Saint Joseph) on March 19, also Father’s Day in Italy.
The pecorino cheese could be replaced with another tasty cheese such as parmesan, or cheese could be left out altogether to create a 100% vegan result. As always, fresh, seasonal and local is best!
* 2 cups semolina flour
* 2/3 cup warm water
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups dried chickpeas
* 1 carrot
* 1 celery stalk
* 1 small onion
* 3 tomatoes
* 2 garlic cloves
* 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley (divided into 2 portions)
* salt & pepper
* 1/2 finely chopped red chilli or dried flakes to taste
* olive oil for frying
* cracked black pepper
* grated pecorino cheese
* Soak chickpeas overnight in a large bowl. They will expand so cover them with plenty of water.
* The following day, drain the chickpeas and place them in a pot with celery, carrot, onion, tomatoes, garlic and half the parsley, all diced as required. Cover with about 3 cm fresh water.
* Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the beans are tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of chickpea and how long they were soaked. Continue to add water while cooking to ensure the chickpeas remain covered.
* Dissolve the salt in the water.
* Place the semolina flour in a bowl and stir in enough water to create a solid dough, adding additional water or flour as needed.
* Knead dough by hand on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth (3-5 min).
* Cover dough and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
* Once rested, use a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to roll the dough until it is about 5mm thick.
* Cut the dough into 10cm wide strips (the tria) and let dry 15 to 30 minutes on a drying rack or on clean towels.
* In a heavy saucepan, heat olive oil to about 2.5cm deep.
* Cut about 1/3 of the pasta strips into shorter lengths.
* Fry the strips until they are lightly browned and crisp, then place them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Combine Chickpeas and Remaining Pasta:
* When the chickpeas are tender, add the remaining parsley and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
* Add enough water to ensure the water level is about 3cm above the level of the chickpeas, and then stir the remaining unfried pasta into the pot with the chickpeas, mixing well.
When the pasta is al dente (cooked but not too soft), serve the pasta and chickpeas with a topping of the fried pasta strips, cracked black pepper and grated cheese.