I find there is a great qualitative (not only quantitative) effect when pasta is the same size as chickpeas. Eating them together like this confronts me with myriad tiny differences in the two identically-coloured and similarly-flavoured starches. If both are cooked as I envisage – al dente – they are receptive to my bite but retain their inner resilience. After the scant but remarkably effective oil-sauce has been tasted, there’s a playful, sensual Where’s Wally? game in putting a spoon of the two in the mouth. Tongue and brain collaborate to work things out. It’s not overwhelming: quick to prepare and with an accommodating plainness at the centre of each mouthful. There’s space for me. Cooking this after a recent emotional pummelling made me feel much better: there I was, again!
1/2 tin of chickpeas
2 handfuls of small pieces of pasta
1/2 tablespoon of tomato paste
3 anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced or crushed with salt
1 red chilli, finely sliced, or a teaspoon of chilli flakes
6 tablespoons of olive oil
How to make:
Boil a kettle of water and add to a large pan with 1/2 tablespoon of salt for the pasta. Add the garlic, tomato paste, anchovy and chilli to the olive oil to a frying pan and heat gently. Stir a little to help the anchovy melt. Fry for a few minutes on a low heat. The tomato paste will turn a darker red. Add the chickpeas and coat with the oil. Cook the pasta until al dente in the boiling water. Take out a cup of cooking water before draining. Add the pasta to the sauce pan with 2 tablespoons of the water and and toss well until all is coated with the dark red oil. Season with salt. Serve.
– I had a big basil plant in the kitchen so tore in a few leaves, however, this is not necessary for it to be delicious.