Novel Food # 18: Pasta with Chickpeas, Onions and Oregano

March 24, 2013 | Filed Under Food Blogging Events, Novel Food 


I thought I was in love with Piero, but I was in love with Sicily.  I went back to see him that fall, and again the next summer.  He wanted me to move in with him.  Once, in the summer, next to the cornflower sea, I asked him, “But what would we do in the winter?”  He said, “We’ll stay at home, cook pasta, and steam up the windows.”  I went back to Los Alamos, gave six months’ notice, and numbered the days till I could be in Sicily again. 

~ Mattanza:  Love and Death in the Sea of Sicily by Theresa Maggio




Mattanza:  Love and Death in the Sea of Sicily by Theresa Maggio is about the ancient Sicilian ritual of bluefin tuna fishing, off the coast of the island of Favignana, where it is said Calypso rescued a shipwrecked Odysseus.   Every spring, schools of giant bluefin tuna would swim to this location, to reproduce; and ever since the Stone Age, fishermen would go through a ceremonial trapping and killing of these giant fish.   When the book first came out, this type of fishing style was a dying tradition.    Today, it’s extinct.

This is one of my all-time favorite books.  I read it a few years ago and every once in a while I pick it up to reread.   I enjoyed the book because it’s more than a fishing story.  Mattanza is a combination of memoir, natural history and travelogue. 

Maggio describes everything so vividly and beautifully – from the fishing custom, her love story, the people she meets on the island, to her relationship with them and the fishermen – that I couldn’t help but be fascinated.  I couldn’t help but want to know more.  Mattanza is a powerful, captivating story of man, fish, life, death and love. 

Perhaps, I should have prepared some kind of tuna meal.  However, I loved Piero’s response, above, to Theresa and felt like preparing a simple pasta dish – Pasta, Chickpeas, Onions and Oregano.  This is a favorite recipe.  I used whole grain spaghetti, oregano, thyme and chili garlic sauce.  Mixed together with the spaghetti, the meal was delicious.  Making pasta and steaming up the windows during winter (or anytime of the year) sounds like a good idea to me.

This is my contribution to the 18th edition of Novel Food, hosted by Simona of Briciole.  I’ll return later in the week to provide a link to her roundup list of those who participated in today’s Novel Food.


Ed. Note:  You can find a list of other participants in the 18th edition of Novel Food HERE.  Check it out!




Pasta with Chickpeas, Onions and Oregano

as seen on Lucullian Delights



serves 4

400-500 g/14-17,5 ounce pasta
1 can of chickpeas
1 onion
a good pinch of dried oregano. You can also use thyme or other herbs
chili pepper, optional
lemon juice
extra-virgin olive oil

While the pasta cooks, slice the onion and cook them gently in a skillet for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, oregano and a little chili pepper and go on cooking for another 8-10 minutes. If you want, you can mash a part of the chickpeas with a fork. Squeeze a little lemon juice over.

Drain the pasta a minute before it is cooked and add it to the skillet, stir and cook for a minute and then serve.








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7 Responses to “Novel Food # 18: Pasta with Chickpeas, Onions and Oregano”

  1. A great combination. Really scrumptious.



  2. Very interesting choice, Paz. I am not familiar with the book, but certainly I know about mattanza. It’s one of the old traditions I read about when I was in grade school. I like the quote you chose too. And I think the pasta you made goes well with the story. Thank you so much for contributing to Novel Food!

  3. Hi Simona: How interesting and good that the history of mattanza is taught in school. Glad you liked the quote. I think I’ll make some more pasta this week 😉 Thanks for hosting Novel Food.


  4. Love the quote you chose, quite cheeky, isn’t it?

    Mattanza is a non-fiction book, if I remember correctly. I watched a documentary about the mattanza rite recently, and was horrified by the gruesame way the poor bluefins are literally getting clobbered to death. I’ll stick to your chickpea pasta, a much more sensible meal!

  5. Hi Merisi: Quite cheeky, indeed. His line would have worked on me and I would have stayed. :-)

    You’re right about the gruesomeness of mattanza. It left me speechless yet mesmerzied. Fascinated yet sad. One of the reasons that I love the book is how the author is able to vividly show what happens. I could see both the energy and fight that the fisherman and fish put into winning. They both have one goal — LIFE.

    Another reason I love the book is because it’s not just about mattanza, as mentioned above.

    Yes, let’s stick with the delicious pasta with chickpeas. :-)

  6. I agree with all you say, Paz! :-)
    The writing is mesmerizing, indeed! Watching the documentary brought it all back, not that I really needed it.

    I have been playing with the idea of going down there.

  7. Merisi: Oh wow! That would be fun to visit there, don’t you think?


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