Chickpeas are loved the world over and I for one am enamoured of their little round shape … but … if you think about it, a lot of recipes seem to require the smashing up of cooked chickpeas. Think hummus in the Middle East … think chole and dhal in the Indian Subcontinent. In Italy, chickpeas are put through the mill to make thick soups: passata di ceci. It became the hip thing to add seafood to the passata di ceci (a purée of chickpeas) about twenty odd years ago and a jolly good idea too. Another winner is saltcod on a purée of chickpeas. I was inspired to make the following dish last week and hope you will enjoy reading about it. I made it up as I went along … and it “shows” … but I think all of us who love cooking also like experimenting.
Cook the chickpeas until they are tender.
These are scampetti di Manfredonia … i.e. fresh scampi from Puglia. They were tiny little things just like Thumbolina. I wanted to use their heads to make a little stock and their bodies to add to the passata di ceci.
Beautiful colour aren’t they … So … here are their heads in a pan … And here are their bodies left behind. Turn on the heat and very soon the shells of these scampetti will start smoking … At which point, it’s a good idea to add some water … A teaspoon of tomato paste … And a pinch of salt. Stir. You could even add a glass of wine if you liked … After a while it starts to “froth” a little … that’s okay, let it. Turn down the heat and let it simmer. I espy something green in there … most likely a bayleaf. And these were some razor clams that I couldn’t resist buying. They were still alive, by the way. Time to get started on the passata. Drain the chickpeas … Place them in a food processor. Add the chickpeas first and then … add the fish stock you were making with the scampi shells. Blitz until you get a smooth cream. Cook some garlic and a few peppercorns in a saucepan with plenty of good olive oil. Add the chickpeas that were blitzed in the food processor … Turn the heat on and simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes or as long as it takes for the passata to gain some taste. When you think you are ready to sit down and eat … add the scampetti to the passata …. And immediately afterwards add a handful or two of the razor clams. Stir for about 1-2 minutes … do not overcook otherwise the scampi will go all rubbery. The only herbs I could find in a hurry on my balcony was rosemary. But I added some anyway, it did the trick. Chickpea passata definitely needs herbs!Turn the heat off. Add a couple of twists of pepper.
Add a few (not too many!) drops of lemon juice. And here it is … ready to serve.
But before you do serve … and if it doesn’t put you off … feel free to add some of the live razor clams to this seafood passata di ceci. So … here we are. Passata di ceci with both scampi and razor clams in the soup (cooked) and raw razor clams on the side. A drizzle of olive oil and some chilli flakes if you fancy them … Buon appetito. And it’s a bit messy too. The scampi were far too tiny to de-shell and so you pop them into your mouth, chomp away, and then spit out the shell when you’ve finished …End result, see what I mean?
Maybe not “elegant” … but … bloody good is how I would describe it! But then I’m biased …