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Sauce of Broccoli di Rape with Ceci (Chickpeas) and Bacon

NotesGood With…A tubular pasta such as gomiti or ziti. But if you have made some fresh pasta, such as whole-wheat or egg pasta, the combination will be sublime.A FLAVORFUL STAPLE: PROSCIUTTO END PIECES

A fine substitute for bacon in this recipe and others is small pieces cut from the end of a prosciutto. This is a chunk of dense and flavorful meat (with a layer of flavorful fat) at the shank end of a prosciutto, all that’s left after the rest of the ham has been sliced paper-thin, in the traditional manner.

The next time you are in an Italian deli or grocery, ask if they have one to sell you; it’s a useful piece of meat to have on hand (and much less expensive than regular prosciutto). With the skin on, it will keep for a long time in your refrigerator or freezer, and you can use small amounts of the salt-cured meat to add flavor to sauces, soups, and pasta, wherever you would use bacon. Remove skin before cutting the prosciutto. You can also slice off a piece of the skin and use the layer of fat underneath to lend flavor to dishes. Just rub the fat over a frying pan, or the surface of a grill, to apply a thin film of grease.

For1 pound of pasta

Cooking Time15 min

Cooking Time - Text15

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 30 minutes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Moodfestive

Taste and Texturecheesy, herby, salty, sharp

Type of Dishdry pasta, fresh pasta, pasta sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta (see Notes)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 or 8 fat garlic cloves, sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 6 ounces bacon or prosciutto ends (see Notes) in strips (1 cup) 
  • ½ teaspoon dried peperoncino (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste
  • 1½ cups cooked ceci (chickpeas), or 1 pound canned, drained and rinsed
  • Hot water from the pasta-cooking pot
  • 2 pounds broccoli di rape, trimmed, washed and cut into 1-inch lengths (about 6 cups)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Grana Padano

Instructions

  1. Start cooking the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes before you begin the sauce if you are using dry pasta, or just after, if using fresh pasta.

  2. Pour 1/3 cup of the olive oil into a big skillet.

  3. Toast the peperoncino for ½ minute; stir in with the garlic and bacon or prosciutto. Cook for another 2½ minutes or more, shaking the pan and stirring now and then, until the bacon has rendered its fat and is crisping.

  4. Pour the ceci into the skillet, and ladle in 2 cups of hot water from the pasta-cooking pot. Stir briefly, and bring the liquid to a boil.

  5. Dump the broccoli di rape pieces on top of the other ingredients, place a cover on the pan, and let the greens steam and wilt for a minute or so.

  6. Uncover, and stir in the broccoli di rape and another 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil. Lower the heat to maintain an active simmer, and cook the sauce, covered, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the beans and greens are quite tender. (You can start cooking dry pasta at this time too.)

  7. Uncover the pan and taste the sauce; add salt if you wish. If the sauce seems soupy, raise the heat and cook until there’s only a shallow layer of liquid around the vegetables. Keep the sauce barely simmering until the pasta is ready.

  8. When the pasta is done almost al dente, scoop it up and into the skillet to finish cooking. Add the parsley during the initial tossing; off the heat, toss in the cheese and the remaining olive oil just before serving.

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