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 …
I would never have thought of associating chickpeas and seafood in such a way. Beautiful post! I love razor clams, they are so soft and chewy and flavorful! And scampi, yum!
Oh my gosh this soup looks incredible!
You had me at chickpeas…! Really enjoyed that Jo – thanks for sharing such a lovely recipe.
We have similar sensibilities. 🙂 I’ve never tried opening raw/live razor clams – how do you do it? (I might add that the razor clams we get are considerably larger than yours, maybe an inch or two wide and 5 – 8 inches long. Great looking dish! Ken
Thank you for your kind comment 🙂 ! I just put a very thin knife through the razor clam and then exerted ‘elbow grease’ … but as you said, maybe your razor clams are tougher because they are so much bigger. Someone told me that molluscs such as vongole and mussels do NOT like fresh water … maybe if you put the razor clams in fresh water for a couple of minutes??? If I find out anything new, I will let you know …
Thank you. Ken