Thursday, April 9, 2009

Orechiette, the sequel

I've already included a post on orrechiette with sausage and rapini, but I've changed my recipe a bit, so I thought an update would be in order. This is one of my favorite quick dishes; it has a really nice combination of bitterness from the broccoli raab, a savory note from the sausage, and hits of spiciness and sweetness from the red pepper and balsamic vinegar. I've spent a lot of time tweaking it and have landed on what I think is a pretty good recipe. The key to this dish is finding a really high quality pasta to start with. Maestri Pastai makes the best orechiette that I've been able to find, so I would recommend that brand. You can order it online here.

INGREDIENTS (2 servings)
  • orrechiette
  • 1 sweet italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli raab, thick stems removed and cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1/2 small onion, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup almonds or walnuts, ground in a food processor or coffee grinder.
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 anchovies (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt, pepper
  • pecorino romano cheese
  • high quality, sweet balsamic vinegar
  • regular olive oil for cooking
  • high quality, Tuscan olive oil for finishing
Prep all the ingredients and heat 1 T olive oil in a large saute pan over med-high heat. Break apart the sausage into small pieces and add to the pan. After about 1 minute, add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions become translucent. You don't want them to burn, so turn the heat down if you need to. At this time, you should add the pasta to a pot of heavily salted water. It should take about 10 to 12 minutes to cook. Next, add the brocolli raab. Once this starts to wilt, add the anchovies and break apart. These should dissolve fairly quickly. Add the wine and turn the heat down to medium after it has reduced a little. Add a bit of water from the boiling pasta and toss everything together. Throw in the red pepper flakes and the ground almonds or walnuts, toss again, and let everything simmer. At this point, add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the pasta is done, add it to the saute pan. Make sure to reserve some of the pasta water. The pasta should be pretty al dente and be able to withstand another minute or two of cooking while still keeping its bite. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of pasta water to loosen it up. Letting everything cook together in the pan allows the pasta to absorb a lot of the flavor from the sauce. As the pasta is cooking in the saute pan, add freshly grated pecorino romano to taste.

Plate and garnish with extra grated cheese, balsamic vinegar, and Tuscan olive oil.

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