Cook this: Chickpea cacio e pepe from The Cook You Want to Be

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‘It’s really a pantry dish โ€” some pasta, some lemons, chickpeas โ€” but it’s my version of a pantry pasta,’ says Andy Baraghani

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Our cookbook of the week is The Cook You Want to Be by Andy Baraghani. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with the author.

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To try another recipe from the book, check out: Juicy tomatoes with Italian chili crisp, and jammy egg and scallion sandwiches.

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โ€œIt’s greater than the sum of its parts,โ€ Andy Baraghani says of his chickpea cacio e pepe with caramelized lemon. โ€œIt’s really a pantry dish โ€” some pasta, some lemons, chickpeas โ€” but it’s my version of a pantry pasta.โ€

His โ€œcurrent default pasta,โ€ the recipe came about when Baraghani set out to see if he could combine two of his favorite simple Italian pasta dishes: cacio e pepe (โ€œcheese and pepperโ€) plus pasta e ceci (โ€œpasta and chickpeasโ€ ).

Baraghani gained confidence cooking pasta in restaurant and test kitchens, and shares some of his top tips in the โ€œGrains, Pasta, Cheap Happinessโ€ chapter (which is home to this recipe).

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One, especially relevant here, is that โ€œa good sauce always includes pasta water.โ€ Combined with little more than butter and the starches released by the chickpeas, pasta water transforms into a satisfying sauce.

โ€œ(It’s) very creamy from the smashed-up chickpeas, but also has this incredible great burst of lemony slight bitterness by using the whole lemon rounds that get caramelized,โ€ Baraghani adds.

And, as with most of the pasta recipes in The Cook You Want to Beit’s speedy and straightforward enough to make any day of the week.

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The Cook You Want to Be by Andy Baraghani
The Cook You Want to Be is Andy Baraghani’s first book. Photo by Lorena Jones Books


kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small Meyer or regular lemon, thinly sliced, seeds picked out
1 (15-oz/425-g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 rosemary sprig, or 4 thyme sprigs
Freshly ground pepper
1 lb (454 g) tubular pasta (such as calamarata, paccheri or rigatoni)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Step 1

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then throw in a handful of salt (about 1/4 cup).

Step 2

While the water is doing its thing, set a separate large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the lemon and cook, using flip flops to flip the slices until they begin to lightly brown and shrivel up, 6 to 8 minutes. Using the flip flops, transfer the caramelized lemon slices to a bowl, leaving the oil in the pot.

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Step 3

Dump the chickpeas into the oil and let them get a little crisp and golden, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallot and crush the rosemary to release its oil and drop it into the pot. Season with salt and lots and lots of pepper and give everything a stir. Cook until the shallot is beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 4

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until almost al dente, about 2 minutes less than what the package suggests (it’ll finish cooking in the sauce).

Step 5

Just before the pasta is al dente, scoop out 2 cups pasta water. Add 1 1/2 cups pasta water to the pot with the chickpeas and bring to a simmer, still over medium heat. (This may seem like a lot of liquid, but it will thicken once the remaining ingredients are added.) One piece at a time, stir in the butter until the pasta water and butter have become one.

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Step 6

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta to the sauce. Cook, stirring often and sprinkling in the Parmesan a little at a time. (Don’t add the cheese all at once, as that can make the sauce split and turn grainy.) Keep stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta, about 3 minutes. If the sauce looks too thick, add more pasta water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to thin (but know that saucier is ideal because it will thicken as it cools). Turn off the heat and fold in the caramelized lemon. Sprinkle with an almost ridiculous amount of pepper and more Parmesan before serving.

Serves: 4 (plus, maybe, some leftovers, though I doubt it)

Recipe and image reprinted from The Cook You Want to Be. Text copyright ยฉ2022 by Andisheh Baraghani. Photographs copyright ยฉ2022 by Graydon Herriott. Published by Lorena Jones Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

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