Orecchiette/Chickpea Casserole

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Little Ears and Baby Butts Casserole

An odd title indeed for a very yummy pasta dish. What does it mean?

Well, orecchiette (prounced oh-reck-ee-ET-tay) is a small, round, cup-shaped pasta typical of the Puglia (in Italian, Apulia) region of southern Italy--the "heel of the boot". The name means "little ear".

The other half of the recipe--baby butts? Years ago I met someone who told me that, to her, chickpeas look like "babies' butts.........and I've never forgotten that.

Chickpeas (other names are garbanzo beans or ceci beans) are common in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mediterranean dishes. Chickpeas are one of the oldest cultivated crops, and are a nutritional powerhouse:

  • Chickpeas are a significant source of protein; combined with rice or whole grains they provide a healthy amount of protein for vegetarians.
  • Chickpeas contain both soluble and insoluble fiber--this means that they can lower both total and LDL cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Insoluble fiber is also important in digestive health.
  • Chickpeas stabilize blood sugar levels; people with diabetes can benefit from eating this high-fiber food.
  • Significant amounts of magnesium and folate are another good reason for eating chickpeas.
  • And finally, chickpeas can control hunger--their high protein level and bulk keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time.

These two ingredients make a great combination--not only because the round little garbanzoes fit ever so snuggly in the cupped pasta shapes, but together they create a casserole that is toothsome, not mushy. Orecchiette are thicker than many other pastas and so retain their al dente firmness and chickpeas have a nutty, mild flavor and retain a slight crunch even after they're cooked.

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 min
Ready in: 35 min
Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 cup orecchiette pasta, uncooked
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzoes), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup broth, vegetable, mushroom, or chicken
  • 2 tsp. oregano, dried
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, cook carrots in covered saucepan or steam until crisp/tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. In large pan saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add carrots and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to turn golden brown. Add minced garlic and chickpeas and cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Add pasta to pan along with vegetable broth and seasonings. Turn heat to low and simmer until almost all of the broth is absorbed and pasta is tender. Sprinkle on feta cheese, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes and serve.

© 2013 Linda Lum

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Comments 2 comments

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Carb Diva 3 years ago from Washington State, USA Author

gts68 thanks for your comment. You could also add extras such as sun dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, perhaps some kale, or even pine nuts on top.

gts68 profile image

gts68 3 years ago from Canada

Great little recipe using stuff that most people have already hanging around the house!

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