Makes 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 as a main
3 1/2 cups semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
2 celery stalks, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
Two 16-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
Put the semolina and 2 teaspoons salt into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add 1 1/2 cups warm water, a little at a time, mixing until all of the water has been thoroughly incorporated. Continue mixing for 10 minutes, until a firm but smooth dough develops. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and set it aside, covered with a cloth, to rest for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 14-inch sauté pan over medium heat until smoking. Add the garlic, onions, celery, oregano and chile pepper, and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until it is rust-colored, about 5 minutes. Add the garbanzos and cook for 5 minutes, stirring well. Then add 2 cups hot water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To make the pici, pinch off a piece of the pasta dough about the size of a martini olive, and roll it between your hands to create a dowel about the thickness of thick spaghetti and about 3 inches long. Repeat, using up all the dough. Spread the pici in a single layer on semolina-dusted baking sheets, and dust them with more semolina. (Have your friends help you make these- it will take some time.)
Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large pasta pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Drop the pici into the boiling water and cook until just tender, probably about 8 minutes- but maybe as much as 2 minutes more or less, so check them often. Drain the pasta in a colander and add it to the pan containing the garbanzos. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated and mixed well with the sauce. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately.