Another PASTA post from A FOOD OBSESSION, get used to it, there are more to come but for now let’s entertain ourselves by cooking this delicious plate. It’s a blend of all good things and along with maybe a tomato salad, some olives and cheese it’s a great meal. No need to have anything else with this, I promise you will be satisfied. I’ve taken some hardcore and basic Southern Italian ingredients and turned them into a quick (relatively) dish that will wow your guests as part of a long sideboard of treats in the afternoon or at a weeknight dinner. Intrigued? Good, I love grabbing your attention. Orecchiette are “little ears”, a Southern Italian pasta that is made 2 ways, originally it’s a blend of flour and water and handmade. The other way is using regular pasta dough and running it through a machine to make the shape. Whichever type you have available should be the one you use, I will not judge. The cooked pasta gets tossed with a saute’ of cooked chick peas (CECI in Italian, GARBANZO in Spanish), chopped bitter greens like broccoli rabe or spinach, garlic, olive oil, peperoncino and wine. The Cheese at the end it optional. Not for me though, it’s a requirement but A FOOD OBSESSION realizes that there’s all types of eaters out there and so I’m writing this blog to give omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans all a tasty dish to make. Personally, I could eat a bowl of pasta or macaroni with tomato sauce every night, I realize we all don’t share in loving that. So, here’s something that can stretch your pantry items and create a full meal for you. Ready to cook? Get your apron and for the Love of Julia Child, please wash your hands! OK, here’s my ORECCHIETTE CON VERDURE E CECI.
FOR 4-6 TIME: about 1/2 hour
1 lb. Orecchiette, cooked al dente according to package directions. Find a brand made in Italy. Be authentic.
3 sliced cloves of GARLIC (sounds like a lot but you are flavoring pasta and beans as well as the greens, needs some punch (FORZA AGLIO!!)
3 tbs. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1 1/2 cups chopped BROCCOLI RABE or SPINACH, or DANDELIONS, or SWISS CHARD, or ESCAROLE…
1 filet of ANCHOVY (ok, ok, you hate anchovies, i get it, i hate liver..so, this is optional except for me, I will use it)
shot glass of WHITE WINE
2 cups of cooked CHICK PEAS (if using canned please rinse, then drain in a colander)
1/8 cup grated PECORINO ROMANO or CACIOCAVALLO
In a large skillet with high sides or a dutch oven heat the olive oil, then add the garlic,(Anchony also if you are using it) pinch of salt, peperoncino and then the greens an saute’ for 5 minutes. Then add the wine and then the beans. Blend well and let this cook for 3 minutes. Then add the orecchiette. When you are draining the pasta reserve about 1/8 cup of the cooking water. Add a little to the pan after you’ve added all the ingredients and let this cook down. Add more water or wine if you want it “more liquidy” and loose, I like it more on the drier side so watch the amount of water you are using. At the end of cooking which should be no more than 4 minutes, remove from the heat. Add 1/8 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Caciocavallo and toss throughly. Now TASTE IT. Does it need more salt or peperoncino? Here is when you do that, not before you added the cheese. Finish by drizzling with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and cheese …always have more cheese on the side for those of us who crave it on our pasta. Serve and enjoy.
If you like your greens more well done, steam them prior to adding to the mix, a little note here…soft greens and vegetables are traditional hallmarks of Italian cuisine. Crunchy, al dente vibrantly colored vegetables are a more modern approach to cooking. Pick your choice.
For Vegetarians this dish works without the anchovy and for Vegans omit the anchovy and the cheese. For those who don’t like anchovies just don’t use them at all.