Home Italy Revisited Bookshelf Plays About Mary Melfi Contact Us
X Italian Pasta Dishes
taccuzzelle e ceci (Taccuzzelle with Chick Peas, Version II)
Pasta e Ceci or Taccuzzelle [Taccozzelle] e Ceci ( Pasta with Chickpeas)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Any time of the year
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

Printer Friendly Version


For the Pasta Dough [see "Everyday Pasta Dough" for recipe]
4 cups flour
Water as much as needed (about 1 1/4 cup cups)

For the Red Sauce

2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound diced fresh pork belly, cut into pieces (about 1 1/2 inches long X 3/4 inch wide)

3 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes (about 10 large tomatoes)
1 or 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
3 dried sweet red peppers, chopped up into small pieces about 1 inch long by 1/2 inch wide (OR crushed between one's fingers)
2 cans chickpeas (19 oz. each, drained) OR 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked the next morning till they are done etc.
1/2 pound sliced air-dried Italian sausage [If using fresh pork belly, sausage is not necessary -- it's one or the other]


a bunch of fresh parsley (with stems) for sauce, later removed and about 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped


4 or 5 fresh basil leaves (uncut) for adding to sauce
1 or 2 tablespoons basil leaves, finely chopped for garnishing individual bowls

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon hot chillies (optional)


1. Make "Everyday pasta dough" [See recipe].

2. Cut strips of dough about 10 inches long and 1/2 inches wide (The length of the pasta strip does not matter, as it will be re-cut).

3. Cut the strips of dough into tiny squares about 1/2 inch wide by 1/2 inch long. And/or into rectangles -- 1 inch long by 1/2 inch wide (The pasta pieces do not need to be uniform).

4. Lightly flour the pasta squares to avoid them from sticking together.

To make the sauce:

5a. Version I: Render some of the fat from the pork belly which have been cut into small pieces, making sure that the pieces are crispy but not overly-crispy.

5b. Version II. Place the olive oil in a pan and add the crushed garlic.

6. Add the chopped up dried sweet red pepper and continue frying for two or three minutes.

7. Add the slices of air-dried Italian sausage and mix well (If using fresh pork belly air-dried Italian sausage is not necessary -- it's one or the other. Well, it is if one is following the traditional method, but in cooking there is no right and wrong....].

8. Continue frying for another 2 minutes or so.

9. Add the diced fresh tomatoes. If using, add the tomato paste and incorporate well.

10. Season with salt and pepper.

11. Add fresh basil leaves (if using) or fresh parsley (if using). Or, add dried basil (if using).

12. Cook the tomato sauce for about 5 minutes.

13. If using canned chickpeas drain the liquid in which they were stored in, and rinse under cold water. If using dried chickpeas, drain the water they were soaked in and rinse under cold water.

14. Add the chickpeas to the tomato sauce.

15. Cook the sauce on medium heat for about 15 minutes, making sure all the ingredients are well mixed.

16. When sauce is cooked remove the cooked parsley or basil leaves (Fresh herbs will be used to garnish the dishes).

To Prepare the Pasta

16. Bring a large pot of water to boil.

17. Cook the taccuzzelle in rapidly boiling salted water for about about 3 to 4 minutes (Technically the taccuzzelle can be removed once they rise to the surface, but most cooks let them cook a bit longer).

18. Drain the taccuzzelle and place in a large bowl.

19. Add about 1/4 of the sauce to the taccuzzelle and mix well.

20. Place the tossed taccuzzelle in individual plates and top with more sauce.

21. Garnish with finely chopped fresh parsley OR finely chopped fresh basil.

22. Serve warm [No grated Parmesan needed].


It seems that prior to World War II the type of sauce used for the various pasta dishes would depend on a large amount on what time of year it was. In the winter cooks would generally use tomato paste to make their red sauce, and in the fall, after the tomatoes were harvested, they would use fresh tomatoes. One would think that most farmers were into canning and so had tomatoes year round, but this was not so. The utensils (in particular the glass containers) needed to can tomatoes were relatively expensive. So the very poor (That includes my mother's family) only made tomato paste. The tomato paste was stored in clay jars. So it was cheaper to make. However, the climate in Molise, made it possible for households to have nearly-fresh tomatoes for months on end. After the harvest some of the tomato plants (including the greenery) would be hung on sticks, and there the half-ripe tomatoes would ripen. Apparently, the tomatoes would keep till Christmas. This sounds quite incredible to my ears as my North American tomatoes go bad quite quickly -- but I guess in Molise folk knew how to preserve their food and those of us on this continent don't (Well, I sure don't). Anyway, those farmers who had a large crop (And not many did) used part of their harvest to make sun-dried tomatoes, but those with small plots, did not have enough tomatoes for them to make it worth their while. Drying vegetables required a lot of work. The vegetables had to be brought at night (even when the weather was good), and of course, they had to be brought in when it rained. It's no surprise then that those who could afford the containers (and not everyone could) made preserves. Canning peppers, tomatoes etc. ensured that cooks had on hand lots of ingredients to prepare the various dishes, but unfortunately the poorest of the poor, did not have this luxury.... Photo: by the contributor.

Back to main list