Six O’Clock Solution: Pasta e Ceci is easy on the cook

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An Italian-style one-dish dinner is easy on the cook, as this recipe demonstrates, especially if you use such convenience products as tomato paste from a tube kept in the refrigerator door, and canned or frozen legumes.

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That’s only one of a multitude of tips in a new cookbook called In Praise of Home Cooking, by Pittsburgh cookbook author Liana Krissoff (Abrams/Canadian Manda Group, $33.50). She subtitles her good-looking book “reasons and recipes,” offering more than 85 tested recipes and short essays on such varied topics as what to do with a gift bag of fresh kale, how to cope in a small kitchen and how to clean your household over-stocked kitchen equipment drawer.

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It’s a good read, well illustrated with photographs by Chaunté Vaughn and sketches by Jenice Kim. Essay topics include how to drain pasta, make your dish-washing efficient and handle knives safely. Browse its pages and you may feel as if you had a visit from an expert cook.

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Pasta e Ceci (pasta with chickpeas)

Serves 2

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil

2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) dried oregano

Pinch chilli flakes (optional)

2 cups (500 mL/150 g) dry paste*

1 cup (250 mL) cooked chickpeas**

Kosher or coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese

*Small or flat pasta such as ditalini, malfada corta, or farfalle is suggested.

**Half a can (540 mL/19 ounces) of chickpeas, rinsed, may be used.

Heat oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat and cook garlic, stirring frequently, until softened and golden, about 3 minutes.

Add tomato paste, oregano and chilli flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until the tomato paste has darkened slightly.

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