Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Horace's Tagliatelle

I first read about this dish in the amazing book Honey From a Weed, by Patience Gray. By the way, if you haven't read this book, run out and get it NOW. I'll wait. *Taps foot.* Okay, ready? She describes this dish as being adapted from a description - if you can call three words a description - in the Satires of Horace (I6, to be precise) and what I have made is fairly adapted from hers. Still, it's both fun and sobering to eat a dish that has roots that stretch back over 2000 years. That Patience Gray could come up with such an authoritative dish from three little words suggests to me that the Italians she knew were indeed still eating very similar things.

I used farfalle rather than the original tagliatelle (laganum) simply because I think the shape is more effective with the other ingredients than a long, broad noodle would be. However, if you want to make this more authentic, you could make your own tagliatelle from scratch - in keeping with the theme of the Satire, it is about as simple and plain a pasta shape as can be made, and very suitable for someone making pasta at home with just a rolling pin. While you eat it, you can reflect on the fact that 2000 years ago, people were already struggling with the value of living a more simple, humble life in a society that was complex, judgemental and ostentatious.

And of course, we send greetings and salutations to Presto Pasta Nights at Once Upon a Feast.

2 servings
20 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

Horace's Tagliatelle250 grams (1/2 pound) farfalle or other stubby pasta
OR fresh tagliatelle for 2 persons

2 cups cooked chick peas
2 large leeks
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped parsley
the juice of 1 small lemon

If using dried pasta, put on a large pot of salted water to boil. If using fresh pasta you should actually do the same, but wait a bit as it will not need to boil nearly as long.

Drain your cooked chick peas, and let them get quite dry, but keep the water in which they were cooked - you will need about a cup, or a cup and a half.

Wash and slice the leeks, and rinse them again. Let them drain well. Peel and slice the garlic.

Heat up the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the well drained chick-peas, and sauté them for 4 or 5 minutes, until they absorb some of the oil and are starting to look a little browned. Add the leeks, well drained, and mix them in well. When they begin to be softened, after a couple of minutes, add the garlic. When the leeks and garlic are somewhat cooked down, and starting to brown just a tiny bit, add about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of the chick-pea cooking water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Test for salt, and add a little if it is needed.

When the pasta is done, drain it quickly and toss it with the leeks and chick-peas. Mix in about 2/3 of the parsley and the lemon juice. Serve it up and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top.

You can use canned chick-peas; but they will be softer, saltier and not as flavourful (nor as authentic) as chick-peas cooked from scratch. However they will certainly do in a pinch. One large (540 ml; 19 ounce) tin will be about right. Use the packing water as the cooking liquid, and don't add further salt.


Peter M said...

Ferdzy, nice pairing of farfalle with chickpeas.

Ruth Daniels said...

What a lovely dish. No wonder it's stood the test of time. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

L.O. Ratliff said...

Made this with penne. Thanks for sharing, it's really delicious! :)

Ferdzy said...

Thank you, l.o. ratliff, for letting me know you made it. Sometimes I wonder if that ever happens!

I'm glad you liked it.

Alix said...

Great dish. I've made it twice, using rombi noodles. Using canned chickpeas, I still needed to add a fair amount of salt. Easy and delicious.

Ferdzy said...

Great to hear that, Alix!