Italian Pasta Ceci

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Italian Pasta Ceci is an Italian dish know here in America as Pasta and Chickpeas.

Grandma sure knew how to stretch a great meal and this dish, as it fed a lot of people.

Back in the old country as she called her birthplace, Rome, Italy, this was referred to as depression food.

It was an inexpensive meal that fed the family and pure comfort food.

This dish tastes great and shouts Italian in every bite.

As years went on it became more and more comforting to remember Grandma at the stove handing down those traditional recipes for my kids to enjoy.

I make this all winter long at least once a month.

My entire family still enjoys those childhood "depression foods" that now became more gourmet being it's not found in any restaurant.

I really believe when times were tough back in the 1930s and before that, Grandma's talent for creating fabulous meals was the best then and now.

My Italian grandmother knew how to make a great meal from when she was 12 and came to the U.S. on a boat at 16.

Mom made wonderful pasta dishes quickly like pasta with Italian sausage, baked cavatelli, pasta fagioli, quick lasagna, and a favorite Italian goulash.

She always made a huge pot for the whole family, and in Utica, my hometown, this was surely on and still is, on many menus there.

Utica is famous for Tomato Pie, Italian Greens, Italian Lemon Ice, Pizza Fritta, Chicken Riggies, Manny's Cheesecake, Oscugnizzo Pizza, Pusties, and Rosato Chocolate Cookies.

This is a very old-fashioned Italian favorite I grew up on scroll down to the recipe and print it off.

Italian Pasta Ceci  Chickpeas and Pasta old fashioned garbanzo beans with macaroni

this is a pot of sauce with chickpeas for pasta later

Easiest Depression Food

Grandma always called this depression food, it fed a large family inexpensively and where she originated from Rome, Italy, this was a staple growing up for her back in the 1800s.

They literally grew tomatoes in the old country (as she referred to) made their own flour and she was taught at an early age of 8 years old how to cook.

Luckily for me, she lived to be 94 years old and taught me a great deal as I watched her cook intently to learn.

Dried Beans Alternations

  1. navy beans
  2. white great northern beans
  3. cannellini beans
  4. red beans
  5. black beans
  6. 15 beans(for soup)

Notes: Grandma always called this depression food because of how inexpensive it is to make and feeds a large family.

She always started with dried beans.

She would buy the chickpeas dry and soak them overnight ( now I do them in a slow cooker) getting them ready to place in a huge pot of freshly made tomato sauce.

Chickpeas garbanzo beans,  being poured into a pot of sauce

Tools Needed

  • 5 or 6-quart saucepan or slow cooker
  • smaller pan for the pasta to boil in
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • large ladle
  • sharp knife

this is a collage of pasta and chickenpeas in sauce and how to make it step by step

Other  Meat Additions:

  1. chopped cooked ham
  2. cooked boneless pork
  3. cooked bacon
  4. cooked loose sausage or meatballs mixture (or tiny meatballs
  5. small chunks of pepperoni
  6. ground cooked lamb
  7. leftover meats cooked
  8. deli meats chopped
  9. Note: use around 1 pound of cooked meats or more if you like

garbanzo beans in a blue colander pouring into a pot of sauce

Different Pasta (you can add)

  • ditalini
  • tiny shells
  • elbows
  • broked spaghetti or perciatelli
  • penne

Italian Pasta Ceci Chickpeas and Pasta  old fashioned garbanzo beans with macaroni

Ingredients for Italian Pasta Ceci

  • fresh celery leaves
  • fresh cleaned garlic
  • garlic powder, oregano ( we like more garlic flavor you can add more fresh if you like)
  • fresh parsley fresh basil and save more for garnishing
  • chicken broth
  • water
  • fresh whole tomatoes or fresh plum tomatoes
  • tomato paste

Italian Pasta Ceci simmering in a pot   old fashioned garbanzo beans with macaroni

Try These Other Pasta Favorites

Cacio e Pepe


Rigatoni alla Zozzona

Pasta and Broccoli Aioli

Homemade Orecchiette

This is a fresh tomato sauce for pasta and ceci which are garbanzo beans, AKA chickpeas in sauce, a famous vintage Italian dish

Italian Pasta Ceci Pin for later

this is a pin for later on how to make chickpeas and pasta sauce

Cherished Memories

These are the meals we cherished the most to warm us up.

Somehow or another I really got to love cooking at the very young age of 11 years old.

Depression food is now gourmet in the 2000s and I continue to make these meals and they are still economical no matter what the economy is like plus delicious and healthy!

Cooking has always been a passion of mine, and I am sure grateful I watched everything mom and grandma did when I was younger.

Italian Pasta Ceci

Italian Pasta Ceci

Yield: 10
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 45 Min
This is an Authentic Italian meal considered peasant food as it is made with garbanzo beans, sauce and pasta to feed a large family inexpensively.


  • In a food processor add or if you like chop by hand :
  • 4 to 5 fresh celery leaves
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 cloves fresh cleaned garlic
  • Puree till a fine mixture.
  • In a large deep saucepan, add the 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil to the mixture above on low, heat, add:
  • 2 (14 to 15 oz size) cans of chickpeas or freshly made beans, saute with garlic mixture till just to coat with flavors
  • When the garlic starts to turn light brown add 1 small can of tomato paste + fill the can with red wine or water to stir out the leftover tomato paste.
  • Add:
  • 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder, oregano ( we like more garlic flavor you can add more fresh if you like)
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh parsley fresh basil and save more for garnishing
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 lbs fresh whole tomatoes or fresh plum tomatoes pureed in a food processor or use 1 - 28 ounce can.
  • grated cheese


  1. Cook until sauce thickens around 1 1/2 hours on low. Add basil and stir.
  2. Add at the very end add the fresh herbs in the sauce:
  3. top with fresh basil leaves or fresh parsley chopped
  4. Stir in some Romano Parmesan blended grated cheese (around 1/4 cup) into the sauce.
  5. Make your favorite pasta to package instructions: suggestions are broken Linguine, Vermicelli. or Ditalini. You can also use Baby shells. Always salt the water.
  6. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain the pasta do not rinse it.
  7. Stir the pasta into the sauce mixture. Serve with Italian Garlic Bread. enjoy!



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chickenpeas and pasta, Italian pasta ceci, Authentic Italian recipes, garbanzo beans with sauce and pasta
bean recipes, pasta recipes, Italian recipes, chickpea recipes, garbanzo bean recipes

Italian Pasta Ceci Pin for later

this is a pin for later on how to make chickpeas and pasta sauce

More Recipes We Love

Mom's Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe

Pasta and Broccoli Aioli

Homemade Orecchiette

this is a pot of sauce with chickpeas for pasta later

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2018. It was edited and re-published in 2021.


  1. What a terrific recipe! So many nice childhood memories, too---you were lucky to have two generations from which to learn cooking and life lessons!

  2. Simple yet very delicious and comforting!

  3. Good to see you back to posting Claudia

  4. I love this recipe but what I love the most is how you write about it Claudia. Your descriptives make me want to make and eat this! I'm definitely going to give the sauce a try. I love how you fill the tomato paste can with wine :) Just so old fashioned and when I make it, I will chop by hand just to be sure I'm staying old fashioned. lol

  5. I love cherished family recipes like this. I've never actually had this particular dish - pasta with chickpeas. I'll have to try it.

  6. I just started liking chickpeas so I'm always looking for new ways to eat them. This recipe looks perfect and delicious. I can't wait to try it!

  7. this recipe sounds wonderful - cant wait to make some!

  8. looks so delicious! Would love to try it!

  9. This is something different! Loves the use if chicpeas in this pasta recipe..great way to add protein !

  10. Sounds like you come from a family of good cooks! So nice that they passed on traditions to you. My son (an adult) still doesn't like chickpeas, but I love them! I never knew this was an Italian dish!

  11. This looks delicious. My hubby is allergic to basil, so I may give this a shot using cilantro!

  12. What a great comfort meal!! Very warming!

  13. Such a hearty and flavourful pasta. Great for the colder winter months.

  14. An Italian classic, and with good reason - packed with flavour and a hearty and filling meal, just perfect for chilly winter evenings. Thanks so much for a great recipe.

  15. Great flavor in this hearty soup. Yum!

  16. I love chickpeas but thank you for providing us with delicious alternatives. This is my kind of comfort food!

  17. I never would have thought to add chickpeas, that's a great idea! I am looking forward to making this! Thanks!

  18. Chickpeas rule and this is a perfect way with them! Yum!


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