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Norwalk Symphony…Life Is What Happens To You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

Norwalk Symphony Family has also had to make adjustments, as have all other arts and music institutions. We miss sharing beautiful music with you in our wonderful Concert Hall and regret that we, at this point, don’t know when we will. Our hearts go out to those of you whose families or friends have been affected and yet our hearts are filled with hope that we can soon gather in our beautiful Norwalk Symphony Concert Hall. In our May Symphony Notes, ‘Cooking with Music’ we invited you to share a recipe with us. The one we chose is from Mimi R. who is a subscriber and patron of the Norwalk Symphony.

As a Thank You for her submission Mimi will receive a copy of “CLASSICAL COOKS: A Gastrohistory of Western Music.” A ‘cookbook’ of sorts that delights our taste-buds, and whets our musical appetite and love of music through composers dating back from the 1300’s to our own time. Mimi’s delicious, ‘Pasta e Ceci’ (Pasta with Beans) is a fragrant, unexpected combination of ingredients and flavors. It heralds from ancient Roman times and from a cook who herself has Italian roots. In the Roman countryside, during the Roman Empire, broths, soups, stews, gruel and bread were staples of meals in the less affluent population. Any food that could be cooked with water and still was reasonably filling provided not just a meal, but comfort that nourished the soul. ‘Comfort food’ is still what we long to eat when times are challenging and another reason this recipe is so relevant just now. Alberto Capatti, a culinary scholar, said “In Italy, every food has to have a story, and if it doesn’t, one is made up.” (We did not ‘make up’ its gastronomical history.) ‘Pasta e Ceci’ was a thick soup that could be eaten with a spoon and made with pasta, chickpeas and whatever else was available; herbs, spices, rosemary, garlic and maybe some seafood. The soup, as many other Roman dishes, could also serve as a base for more filling and aromatic dishes with added mint, fennel, anise and sage. The classic version included razor clams but feel free to improvise. You can make it with modest ingredients or go extravagant. Instead of pancetta, substitute with seafood, chicken, something vegetarian or whatever else suits your fancy, even truffles. (In the May Notes we shared with you Rossini’s passion for that particular delicacy and his distress when once they fell overboard on the boat ride to a picnic).

PASTA E CECI (Pasta with Chickpeas) Many recipes, like this one, survived the Roman Empire, and here is Mimi’s delicious interpretation. (4 servings ) • About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) • ¼ pound pancetta, diced, or other alternative as per above • 1 small onion, chopped • ½ bulb fennel, cored, finely chopped and chopped fronds for garnish (optional) • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary • Salt • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes • 1 1/4 oz can crushed, diced or cherry tomatoes • 2 cups vegetable stock or chicken bone broth • One 15-ounce can chick-peas, half of the can very finely chopped or mashed • 1 ½ cups any short-cut pasta (about ½ pound) • 4-5 cups chopped escarole, stemmed flat kale or green chard • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese Preparation: In a deep skillet heat olive oil over medium heat, add pancetta if using, and render 3 minutes. Add onions, fennel, garlic and rosemary. Season with salt and red pepper flakes, cover and sweat for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and 2 cups water, bring to a boil and add whole or finely chopped chickpeas (use a food processor or chop by hand). Add tomatoes and bring to a full rolling boil, then add pasta, lower the heat to a simmer. Cook pasta ‘al dente’ (8-10 minutes) then wilt in greens. Stir in a big handful of Pecorino. Top with fennel fronds and more cheese and serve. Buon Appetito! As in our May Notes we leave you with music to listen to while cooking and sharing a meal, instilling us with some hope and comfort, even if only for a short while.

Suggested Music from Norwalk Symphony…