We were very inspired by the March issue of Bon Appetit: the pasta issue. This is one of two recipes we decided to make by Sara Jenkins, whom SCF fans might remember from such posts as Big Day of Fun: Porchetta and from our friend Mindy Fox, who co-wrote a cookbook with Jenkins. Jenkins uses a method I’ve seen more often in Latin American cooking: she purees the mirepoix in a blender and then sautes it, therefore reducing it and deepening the flavor. The result is magnificent.
1 medium onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, 4 whole, 2 chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 pound ditalini or elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Pulse onion, carrot, celery, whole garlic cloves, parsley, and red pepper flakes in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor bowl and set aside.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; add reserved vegetable mixture, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8-10 minutes. Stir tomato paste and 1 cup water in a small bowl to combine; add to pot. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 5-8 minutes.
Add chickpeas and 2 cups water to pot and simmer for 15 minutes to let flavors meld. Transfer 1 cup chickpea mixture to food processor; purée until smooth, then stir back into sauce to thicken.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.
Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; add chopped garlic and rosemary and cook until sizzling stops, about 1 minute. Divide pasta among bowls and drizzle with garlic-rosemary oil.