[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Scott Conant is the chef at Scarpetta in New York, a restaurant known for refined yet soulful Italian food. This recipe, published in Esquire magazine, takes a slim list of ingredients and creates something special from them: to me, the hallmark of a great pasta dish.

Why I Picked This Recipe: I loved the idea of chickpeas in a pasta dish—a simple and inexpensive way of adding protein—which drew me to the recipe. I stayed for the relatively unusual remaining ingredients: pancetta, shallots, and mustard greens.

What Worked: The combination of flavors was as good as promised: creamy bits of chickpea, the refreshing bitterness of the greens, the salty, crisp pieces of pancetta. It all tied together in that universal way of binding pasta with some of the cooking water and Parmesan cheese—tossed together over low heat to make a creamy, starchy result.

What Didn't: No complaints about this recipe whatsoever.

Suggested Tweaks: The recipe had called for fresh cavatelli, which I'd have been hard pressed to find, and so I went with dried. Any small shaped pasta would work fine in this dish, though it's ideal if the pasta is smaller than the chickpeas so they don't get lost.

Adapted from Esquire.

About the author: Blake Royer is a food writer, photographer, and filmmaker based in Chicago; he has been writing for Serious Eats since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter @blakeroyer.


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