Home-cooking with Will Goldfarb: Pasta Ceci, Home Version

Every decade or so, Chef Will Goldfarb finds a few minutes of sunshine. This year saw the revamped Room4Dessert, his endearingly resilient dessert bar, surrounded by a garden full of medicinal plants and trees and worms and other fun things. A new menu. A new attitude. Having enjoyed giddy heights in 2018 with a cookbook from Phaidon and a Chef’s Table feature, Chef Goldfarb is currently riding the long road back to the middle, hanging on by a thread to the counter plating area at R4D Ubud, where he and his merry band of pastry refugee all stars take to the metaphorical pastry skies each night to amaze and delight legions of passersby and other gastronauts.

“Whenever I am hungry, which is basically always, I whip up a bowl or pot of this satisfying pasta. I was first turned onto this dish by my wife, who grew up in Rome, and although at first I didn’t understand how you could have chickpeas and pasta together, eventually I grew to love it, and now I literally crave it. I can survive on this alone. You could pick up a better version at Armando al Pantheon, Augusto in Trastevere, or even better, at Santo Palato by Sarah Cicolini, but this one suits us fine.”


Pasta Ceci, Home Version

Serving size 1 Hungry Chef

Photo: Fitria Sulistyorini


150 – 180g (1/3 box) dry pasta, rigatoni is great

200g whole tomato tinned (½ can)

200g chickpeas (½ can), reserve all water

1 onion, diced finely (red if possible)

Dash pimenton or smoked sweet chili powder

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the palm of your hand

Parmesan for grating, and a little rind if handy

Thin slice of stale bread, diced finely

Drop of vinegar, sherry is great

Splash of milk

Olive oil



100g button mushroom, cut into small pieces, and cooked down with salt, then splash of olive oil, and drop of vinegar.

25g bitter greens, cut into thin slices, lightly steamed.)


First, slowly cook down your diced onion in copious amounts of olive oil, lightly salt.

While this is cooking, you can warm the chickpea water with the garlic cloves.

At the same time, feel free to get a heavily salted large pot of water to a roiling boil.

When your onion is all the way broken down, but still golden, like me, season lightly with pimenton, and then season lightly with a drop of vinegar.

Fry your bread, and then your chickpeas in with the onions. 

Then moisten with a bit of plain water, or salted water, and bring to a good boil.

You can then add your tomatoes and get it really going. 

(Feel free to add parmesan rind if using)

If you find the acidity too strong, a splash of milk is always nice.

Next, add the chickpea water with the garlic cloves, and return to a boil.

Simmer until the sauce just comes together, about 15 minutes.

During this time you can cook your pasta. (Save a bit of the cooking water.)

When the pasta is al dente, drain it, and return it to the same pan, season with olive oil and salt, and then dress with the mushroom and bitter greens if using.

Then hit it with as much sauce as it can absorb. 

Bump it up with a little pasta cooking water if necessary.

Lastly, bowl it up and top with as much grated cheese as you have.



Photo: Martin Westlake

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.