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Pasta with Cicerchia and Mushrooms


In the Rancho Gordo library, we have a well-used copy of the book Fagioli: The Bean Cuisine of Italy (Rodale, 2014) by Judith Barrett. It includes a handful of recipes that feature cicerchia, Italy's unique, tooth-shaped legume. 

Barrett recommends fresh oyster mushrooms as a substitute for the cardoncelli mushrooms that are traditionally found in this dish from Puglia, but you can use any fresh mushrooms you can get your hands on. We loved it with shiitakes. Adjust the pasta quantity to your preference. We liked it more bean-forward but the original recipe called for a full pound of pasta.
  • 1/2 pound (1 cup) dried Rancho Gordo Cicerchia beans, or white beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound dried orecchiette pasta
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound fresh oyster mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into 1-inch pieces (or other fresh mushrooms; see note)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  1. Soak the beans in cold water for 4 to 6 hours. Drain and discard the soaking water. Rinse under cold water and drain again. Combine the beans and bay leaf in a heavy medium saucepan with 6 cups cold water over medium-high heat. When the water begins to boil, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 1 hour, or until the beans are tender. Remove and discard the bay leaf, turn off the heat, and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, until pasta is tender but firm to the bite, al dente. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring frequently, 7 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Turn off the heat and set aside. Reheat just before serving.
  4. Drain the beans and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a heavy 6-quart soup pot or casserole over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook about 5 minutes, just until it begins to brown, being careful not to burn it. Remove the garlic from the pot and add the beans. Cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water from the beans. Season with salt to taste. Continue cooking about 5 minutes longer, until the pasta and beans are hot and the liquid has thickened.
  5. Serve in soup bowls. Top each serving with some of the mushrooms. Season with pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle with parsley. 


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