Lampi e tuoni (Neapolitan Style Pasta and Chickpeas)

FrankCampania, pasta, primi piatti32 Comments

lampi e tuoni

Pasta and chickpeas is one of those combinations that was just meant to be. You can find scores of renditions up and down the Italian boot, though mostly in the southern regions. Today we’re taking a look at Naples’ take on the dish which goes by the name lampi e tuoni or “thunder and lightening”, a jocular reference to the effects it can have on delicate stomachs. A fun name, even if it’s never given me any such trouble …

Of all the many local and regional versions of pasta and chickpeas, lampi e tuoni may be the very simplest. It’s a kind of one pot meal. You boil chickpeas, and when they’re nearly tender, you pour some garlic-scented olive oil and herbs into the pot, then add pasta—classically a freshly made semolina ribbon pasta called laganelle—and simmer everything together until the pasta is tender. Serve and enjoy.

It’s simple but sturdy eating, perfect for the cold and cool weather months. Traditionally pasta and chickpeas were a stand-by for Lent, the forty day period starting on Fat Tuesday and ending on Easter Sunday, when Catholics would abstain from eating meat. Today it’s meatlessness makes lampi e tuoni a great dish for vegetarians and vegans. Or for anyone who’s interested in healthy eating. But most of all, lampi e tuoni is delicious, making it appealing for just about anybody regardless of religious or dietary practice.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 250g (1/2 lb) dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp baking soda (optional)
  • 50ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • A pinch of oregano
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 300g (10 oz) laganelle or mixed dried pasta (see Notes)

For the laganelle:

  • 200g (2 cups) semolina rimacinata
  • 250ml (1 cup) water, or as much as you need
  • Salt

Directions

Soak the chickpeas in water overnight to soften. Add a teaspoon of baking soda if you want, it helps the softening process along. The next day, drain the chickpeas and, if you’ve used baking soda, rinse them well.

Place the chickpeas in a large pot and cover them with water by at least 4cm (1-1/2 inches). Simmer until tender, which can take anywhere between an hour and two hours, or even more, depending on the size and age of the chickpeas and how long they’ve been left to soak. If you’d like a thicker sauce for your pasta, you can purée some of the chickpeas, with the back of a wooden spoon or using a hand blender.

If making laganelle fresh, do so while the chickpeas are simmering. See Notes below for recipe.

When the chickpeas are almost done, gently sauté the garlic in the olive oil in a separate skillet until the cloves are just beginning to brown around the edges. Discard the garlic and add the scented olive oil to the pot where the chickpeas are cooking, along with a pinch of oregano. Let everything simmer for another few minutes to let the flavors meld.

Meanwhile, parboil the pasta in ample, well-salted water. If using fresh laganelle, boil them for just a minute or two, or until they rise to the surface of the water. If using mixed dried pasta, cook until just a bit underdone.

Add the pasta to the chickpeas, along with the minced parsley and a ladleful of the pasta water. Let everything simmer until the pasta is fully cooked and the chickpeas cling to the pasta.

Serve while still hot, with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of minced parsley for color.

Ceci e laganelle or Lampe e tuone

Notes

Classically this dish is eaten quite thick, with very little cooking liquid left in the pot. But don’t let that stop you if you prefer this dish a bit “wetter”. I’ve even reheated leftover lampi e tuoni with broth as a soup. It was delicious.

Laganelle are the classic pasta for lampi e tuoni. But it is also very common to find versions of the dish made with odds and ends of different leftover pastas, known as pasta mista. In either case, although most recipes for lampi e tuoni call for adding the pasta directly to the pot, I find that can result is a rather stodgy end product, so I prefer to parboil the pasta separately beforehand as called for here.

You can also vary the thickness of the condimento by puréeing more or less of the chickpeas. The more you purée, the thicker it will be, of course. In the version pictured here, I puréed just a small portion of the chickpeas, making for a “lighter” dish, but you could purée as much as say a third of the chickpeas for a version that will really stick to your ribs.

You can cut down the cooking time considerably by pressure cooking the chickpeas. If using an electric cooker, it probably has a “beans” setting. Otherwise, about 20-30 minutes at high pressure should do the job.

Lagane and laganelle

Lagane, a kind of ribbon pasta made from semolina flour and water, are perhaps the oldest form of Italian pasta. References to lagane and chickpeas can be found in the ancient Roman sources, including a story by author Horace, who wrote in the first century BCE, and in the best know ancient Roman cookbook, Apicius. So much for the story that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy…

Lagane are is still widely enjoyed today in southern Italy—Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria. Laganelle, a special type of lagane, are typically longer and thinner than regular lagane, much like fettuccine, only using semolina flour and water rather than “OO” flour and eggs.

Making laganelle

The traditional method of making laganelle is to pile the flour on a wooden board, making a well in the middle and pouring the water into the well. Using a fork, the water is incorporated little by little into the flour until you have a solid but pliable ball of dough.

The operation can also be done by machine, using a standing mixer or food processor, adding the flour to the bowl and then, as the motor is running, adding the water in a steady stream until the dough is formed.

NB: In either case, the exact amount of water you’ll need depends on a lot of factors, you may need more or less than the amount indicated above.

You then knead the dough for a good five minutes and let it rest, wrapped in plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, for about 30 minutes.

laganelle

Cut the dough ball in half, then roll out each half into a thin—but not paper-thin—sheet. You can do this with a rolling pin or a pasta machine. Let the sheets dry a bit for, say, 15-30 minutes, until dry to the touch. (Again, this will vary quite a bit, depending on the humidity and other factors.)

You then cut the pasta sheets into ribbons. Laganelle are most typically cut about the length and width of fettuccine, but as pictured above I actually like to cut them a bit thicker and wider. The mouth feel pairs better with the chickpeas in my opinion. Plus, I can eat my lampi e tuoni with a spoon if I choose.

For a more detailed treatment of the subject of making fresh pasta, you can read this post. It’s about fresh egg pasta, but the method is basically the same.

A word to the wise…

If you’re in the US, be aware that most “semolina flour” sold here is rather coarsely ground, more of a meal than true flour. That kind of semolina flour is fine for making Roman style gnocchi but, marketing to the contrary, isn’t ideal for pasta making. The kind you want for making laganelle or any other kind of fresh pasta is called semola rimacinata, or “twice ground” semolina. I’ve rarely if ever seen it in stores here, but it is available online.

Post scriptum

This is hardly the first time I’ve written about pasta and chickpeas. Regular readers may remember my post from last year on ciceri e tria, Puglia’s unique take on the dish featuring deep fried pasta called tria, which are essentially laganelle. And I first wrote about Pasta and Chickpeas in this post way back in 2009. It was, in fact, one of my very first posts. Not surprising, since pasta and chickpeas is not only a classic combination, but one of my personal favorites. That first recipe was in the style I usually make the dish, with garlic, rosemary, pancetta and a bit of tomato for color. But I did mention the tomato-less Neapolitan version called lampi e tuoni and promised to post on it “soon”. Well, better late than never…

Lampi e tuoni

Pasta and Chickpeas Neapolitan Style
Course: Primo
Cuisine: Campania
Keyword: pasta, vegan, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 250g 1/2 lb dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp baking soda optional
  • 50ml 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic peeled and slightly crushed
  • A pinch of oregano
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley finely minced
  • 300g 10 oz laganelle or mixed dried pasta

For the laganelle

  • 200g 2 cups semolina rimacinata
  • 250g 1 cup water or as much as you need
  • salt

Instructions

  • Soak the chickpeas in water overnight to soften. Add a teaspoon of baking soda if you want, it helps the softening process along. The next day, drain the chickpeas and, if you've used baking soda, rinse them well. 
  • Place the chickpeas in a large pot and cover them with water by at least 4cm (1-1/2 inches). Simmer until tender, which can take anywhere between an hour and two hours, or even more. If you'd like a thicker sauce for your pasta, once tender you can purée some of the chickpeas, with the back of a wooden spoon or using a hand blender. 
  • If making laganelle fresh, do so while the chickpeas are simmering. See below for instructions. 
  • When the chickpeas are almost done, gently sauté the garlic in the olive oil in a separate skillet until the cloves are just beginning to brown around the edges. Discard the garlic and add the scented olive oil to the pot where the chickpeas are cooking, along with a pinch of oregano. Let everything simmer for another few minutes to let the flavors meld. 
  • Meanwhile, parboil the pasta in ample, well-salted water. If using fresh laganelle, boil them for just a minute or two, or until they rise to the surface of the water. If using mixed dried pasta, cook until just a bit underdone. 
  • Add the pasta to the chickpeas, along with the minced parsley and a ladleful of the pasta water. Let everything simmer until the pasta is fully cooked and the chickpeas cling to the pasta. 
  • Serve while still hot, with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of minced parsley for color. 

To make the laganelle (if using)

  • Pile the flour on a wooden board, making a well in the middle and pouring the water into the well. Using a fork, the water is incorporated little by little into the flour until you have a solid but pliable ball of dough. 
  • OR: Using a standing mixer or food processor, add the flour to the bowl and then, as the motor is running, adding the water in a steady stream until the dough is formed.
  • You then knead the dough for a good five minutes and let it rest, wrapped in plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, for about 30 minutes. 
  • Cut the dough ball in half, then roll out each half into a thin—but not paper-thin—sheet. You can do this with a rolling pin or a pasta machine. Let the sheets dry a bit for 15-30 minutes, until dry to the touch.
  • You then cut the pasta sheets into ribbons. Laganelle are most typically cut about the length and width of fettuccine.

Enter your email address below and you'll receive new posts in your inbox as soon as they're published, at absolutely no charge. You'll never miss another recipe!

32 Comments on “Lampi e tuoni (Neapolitan Style Pasta and Chickpeas)”

  1. What an interesting combination. I worked on some articles about Southern Italian Cuisine, particularly Calabria and Puglia, and I was quite surprised by such recipe. But I guess I should try 🙂

  2. I adore pasta with chickpeas but usually make the short pasta e ceci version. I’m curious to try it with laganelle which I’ve never made. These type of meals are so comforting and satisfying, don’t you think, Frank?

  3. When I made a similar version of this for Cocoa & Lavender, I was skeptical at first about chickpeas with pasta. No longer! It’s become a favorite of ours, when we have time to make fresh pasta. The recipe I used was from a cook in Leche, and she used egg pasta. I’d like to try yours with the semolina pasta.

  4. Looks like a simple yet satisfying dish. Homemade pasta is the best, so light. I’d love this with a thicker sauce, puréeing the chickpeas, so creamy and delicious.

    1. I make it that way, too, when the mood strikes me. That’s the great thing about cooking isn’t it. Almost infinite ways to make it your own to suit your personality or your mood. 🙂

  5. Wow, this looks simply delicious! Always impressed with Italian cuisine, they look like they have a few ingredients and it can be as simple as it can be but I am always surprised they always come out really delicious.

  6. The pasta is beautiful, and I love cooking with chickpeas and always have them in the pantry. Love the simplicity of it too. 🙂 ~Valentina

  7. Haha – better late than never for sure! There are just some recipes that are worth circling back to, and this one is certainly a classic. I wasn’t familiar with the “thunder and lightening” reference…I find that one a bit strange since this is pasta and chickpeas. I mean if it was packed with spicy ingredients, sure. But pasta and chickpeas? Either way, thanks for sharing! Also, Marco Polo bringing pasta to Italy? Hah!

    1. Ha, it doesn’t have that effect on me, for sure. But apparently there are some folks who find chickpeas and other legumes hard to digest. I’m just glad I’m not one of them!

  8. Top tips: melting some anchovies into the garlic and oil gives this a little kick, and is definitely done in Italy, though not universally – I once heard a Roman and a Tuscan have a furious argument about it (former against, latter for).

    Also, a raw fennel salad afterwards will really help with the tuono e lampi side of things.

  9. Ciao Frank
    My parents make this dish quite often, although they make lajanell e fasulli more often. Yes in our dialect lajanelle is spelled with a j! I hadn’t made the connection to the name of the legane pasta that the Romans made. How fascinating! I get so annoyed when I hear anyone say Marco Polo brought pasta back from China. Seriously, if that was true pasta would be a staple in cucina Veneto. Drooling over your Deruta plate too. Cristina

  10. Love this! Ever since I first discovered the Italian combo of chick peas in pasta, I just do it. It makes the pasta so much healthier, and adds a great texture.

  11. Delightfully simple but delightfully appetizing . . . haven’t made cut pasta like this for ages, but remember it going well, each strand lovingly cut . . . so, on the menu next week if I can get the flour in time . . . . hope you well . . .

  12. I remember harvesting the ceci in Italy when I was about 7. Can’t say it was a fun day, it was soooo hot and everyone was working so hard. Never heard of this version, although we make the regular pasta and beans or ceci on a regular basis. I think this would be a nice change!

    1. Interesting! Your comment made me Google “chickpea plant” out of curiosity. And they’re actually quite pretty. If you like pasta and legumes (like me) then I think you’d enjoy this very simple and pure take on the dish. Really lets the main ingredients shine through.

  13. I love the combo of pasta and any kind of dried legume or pulse. Oddly, I’ve only had chickpeas with pasta a few days. Definitely will be making this — love this type of dish, and this one looks delightful. Thanks!

  14. Another brilliant dish which would have filled people up on even the most meager budget. La cucina povera at it’s best! I love the Marco Polo story – apparently invented by the US National Macaroni Manufacturers’ Association’s magazine, in 1929, to promote pasta in America. I grew up thinking it was true!

We love hearing from you!

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