Tria e Ciciari is a very traditional pasta dish from the Italian region of Italy, particularly the Salento area. This dish is a wonderful example of cucina povera and I had the opportunity to sample this dish a couple of times on our recent vacation to Puglia. The region of Puglia has a very strong Arab influence and the name of this dish certainly reflects that.
Basically, the primary components of this dish are simply semolina pasta made with water and flour and dried chickpeas. Reflecting how inventive cucina povera truly is, the Pugliese fry a portion of the pasta giving the dish a lovely crunchy texture, and the pasta is cooked right in the pot of seasoned chickpeas with their water.
You really do need to use dried chickpeas to create the true version of this dish, as the soupy cooking water along with the chickpeas become the sauce for the pasta. Because you are using dried chickpeas, it is best to start the night before as you need to soak the dried chickpeas at least 12 hours before cooking them.
Although I loved this dish when I tasted it in Puglia, I was a little hesitant to make it at home myself as I thought it might end up bland tasting. Luckily, by seasoning the water used to cook the chickpeas with a little celery, onions, tomato, parsley, red pepper flakes and bay leaves, the dish ended up quite flavorful and the texture between the boiled and fried pasta is amazing.
I used my hand crank rolling machine to make my pasta, but you could make it by hand if you prefer. To serve this dish, we simply topped it with some cracked black pepper and a little grated Pecorino cheese which is a cheese typical of Puglia.
For The Semolina Pasta:
- 2 Cups Finely Ground Semolina Flour
- About 2/3 Cup Warm Water
- 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
For The Chickpeas:
- 2 Cups or About 3/4 Pound Dried Chickpeas
- 1 Carrot, Peeled & Finely Diced (About 1/2 Inch)
- 1 Celery Stalk, Finely Diced
- 1 Small Onion, Peeled & Finely Diced
- 3 Plum Tomatoes, Cored & Finely Diced
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 Cup Fresh, Chopped Parsley Divided
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/2 Finely Minced Red Chile Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes To Taste
- Olive Oil For Frying
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Grated Pecorino Cheese
- Place the chickpeas in a large bowl, cover with water by at least an inch and soak overnight.
- The next day, drain the water from the chickpeas and place them in a pot with the celery, carrot, onion, tomatoes, garlic, half the parsley, and bay leaves and cover with fresh water by at least an inch.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- You may need to add water to keep them covered by at least an inch of liquid as the beans cook and begin to absorb the water.
- While the beans are cooking begin the pasta.
- Dissolve the salt in the water.
- Place the semolina flour in a bowl and stir in enough water to create a dough that sticks together.
- You may need a little additional water, or even a little extra flour if needed.
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 3 to 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Once the dough has rested, work with half at a time and using the rolling machine start at the widest setting and continue until you reach the #5 setting.
- If rolling by hand, using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick.
- Cut the dough into 1/3 to 12 of an inch strips and let dry 15 to 30 minutes on a drying rack or on clean towels.
- In a heavy saucepan, heat olive oil to about 1 inch deep.
- Cut about 1/3 of your prepared pasta strips in half.
- Heat the oil and once it is very hot fry the strips in batches until they are lightly browned and crisp.
- Place the fried strips on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Continue to fry the rest of the cut strips in this manner.
- Once the chickpeas are tender, add the remaining parsley and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Add enough water to ensure the water level is about 1 inch above the level of the chickpeas, and then stir in the remaining pasta (the 2/3 pasta not fried) into the pot with the chickpeas, stirring to mix well.
- Cook until the pasta is "al dente".
- Serve the piping hot pasta with chickpeas in four individual bowls, topping each with a portion of the fried pasta strips as well as some cracked black pepper and grated cheese.