Recipes With Orecchiette

Orecchiette, Italian wheat semolina pasta.
Copyright: joaquincorbalan

Orecchiete pasta has the shape of a little ear.  It is a pasta typical of Apulia which is one of the regions in Southern Italy.  Most recipes containing orecchiete are usually served with meats such as venison,  pork and sausages and coupled very often with a strong sauce to suit.  The pasta also works well with robust vegetable sauces which often include broccoli, kale and chard. 

The first recipe is a fine example of combining the umami flavour from anchovy with a classy vegetable such as sprouting broccoli. These two flavours work so well together and are indicative of what we were discussing earlier about robust flavours.

[1] Orecchiette with anchovies and purple sprouting broccoli

Serves 2. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 200g orecchiette 200g
  • 200g purple sprouting broccoli 200g
  • anchovies 1 small tin of about 12, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • red chilli, finely chopped – just one should do it.
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar – enough to dab the sauce with.
  • parmesan (Parmiggiano) grated or ricotta salata, to serve

Preparation:

  1. Cook the orecchiette. After 5 minutes, add the purple sprouting broccoli — this should be well cooked, not crunchy.
  2. Roughly chop the anchovies and put in a pan with a little of the oil from the tin.
  3. Heat gently and add the garlic and chilli. Cook until the anchovies begin to break down and the garlic turns translucent.
  4. Drain the pasta and broccoli and add the anchovy mixture. Season with pepper.
  5. Sprinkle a few drops of red wine vinegar to add a slightly acidic taste and any cheese you care to use.

[2] Orecchiette with Spinach and Chickpeas

Serves 2. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 medium diced white/yellow onions (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper or crushed Calabrian chillis in oil
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 400g Lacinato kale, spinach and dandelion greens,  stemmed and cut into 1-in. pieces. A mixture can be used successfully. I prefer to use dandelion leaves only when they are early in spring.
  • 1 (15.5-oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup double cream or heavy cream
  • 200g orecchiette
  • 2 oz Gran Padano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated (½ cup)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice – a single lemon is enough

Preparation:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium.
  2. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
  3. Add onions, crushed red pepper or Calabrian chillis, sugar, black pepper and 2 teaspoons kosher salt; increase heat to medium high.
  4. Cook, stirring often, until onions are softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add turmeric and tomato paste; cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add greens; cook until very soft and tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in chickpeas and heavy cream; cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  7. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until just cooked through and slightly chewy, about 10 minutes. Drain, and return pasta to the cooking pot. Stir sauce, cheese and lemon juice into pasta to combine. Serve immediately.

[3] Orecchiette with Spicy Italian Sausages And Rocket (Arugula)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • salt to taste
  • 8 ounces spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided, or as needed
  • 200g orecchiette, or more to taste
  • ½ cup roughly chopped arugula, or to taste
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and then fry the onion until translucent soft. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the sausages and use a wooden spoon to break them into bite-sized pieces. Fry until cooked through.
  3. Return the onion to the pan with the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the water to the pan and stir well taking all the flavour scraped from the bottom.
  4. Cook the pasta as per maker’s instructions which will be about 10 minutes.
  5. Toss the pasta through the meat and vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir the  rocket throughout the sauce and pasta.
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