Makes 4 servings.
1 lb. short curly pasta shape, like cavatappi or campanelle
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. pancetta (or bacon, salami, or 8 oz. cremini mushrooms), diced small
1 c. red onion, chopped
1 c. Red Dog fennel, chopped
1 (14-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. Parmesan, freshly grated, or more to taste
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh sage, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente, a few minutes before the package instructs. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until it shimmers. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp, stirring frequently. Remove the pancetta from the pan, leaving the oil and fat behind, and set aside. (If using mushrooms, sauté until browned and crispy and then set aside, and add an additional tablespoon of oil in the next step.)
Add the rest of the oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel, and cook until soft and lightly golden on the edges, about 5 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and red pepper flakes, if using, and toss to combine, cooking until the chickpeas take on a little bit of color, about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix in the pasta, pancetta, and ½ cup of pasta water to the chickpea sauce. Cook, adding more pasta water if the mixture looks dry, until the pasta is al dente.
Add the Parmesan, parsley, sage, and lemon zest and toss again. Serve, garnished with more Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.