This is an adaptation of a recipe from Little Meals which I wrote almost two decades ago! It won me my first James Beard Award. I have updated this recipe only slightly, using fresh sage and grated lemon zest. I also cook up my own chickpeas but canned chickpeas are perfectly acceptable. The dish is a riff on an old Italian recipe known as "Thunder & Lightning" -- where "thunder" refers to the profusion of fried chickpeas, and "lightning" to the excessive amount of coarsely cracked black pepper. As a bonus, sometimes I drizzle a bit of my best extra-virgin olive oil over each dish for extra complexity and "perfume." Nice with a bottle of Arneis (a white wine from northern Italy) or a simple Chianti.
12 ounces dried orecchiette pasta 4 tablespoons olive oil 2 large cloves garlic, very finely chopped 2 cups cooked chickpeas 1 tablespoon finely slivered sage, plus sprigs for garnishing 1 cup good-quality chicken broth 2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper, "mignonette or butcher-grind" 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano grated zest of 1 lemon
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add orecchiette and cook until al dente (about 12 minutes.) Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a very large skillet. Add the garlic and chickpeas and cook over high heat, stirring, until the chickpeas begin to pop. Add the sage, broth and pepper. Continue to cook over high heat until the broth reduces a bit and becomes syrupy (about 5 minutes.) Drain pasta well. Put butter in a large warm bowl and add pasta. Toss. Add chickpeas and broth to bowl and stir well. Add 1/2 cup cheese and salt to taste. Stir in the grated lemon zest. Mix gently. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired, and dust with remaining cheese. Garnish with small sage leaves. Serve immediately. Serves 4