Monday, June 23, 2014

fresh orecchiette (aka little ears).

This pasta has 3 ingredients in it. Three!

Two of the ingredients are flour. One is water.
(Cooking doesn't get much simpler then this.)

This recipe kind of shock and awed me.  It's easy to make really good food when you have a supermarket aisle worth of ingredients at your disposal.  You can layer flavors, you can add more and more until everything is just right.  But when working with a minimal amount of ingredients, it's easy for flaws to be exposed if you don't know what you are doing.  Thankfully this pasta is forgiving.  

Fresh orecchiette is nothing like the boxed variety.  It's chewy yet tender.  It begs to be served with vegetables (lots and lots of vegetables) which is why it's so perfect this time of year.  

Fresh Orecchiette 
Recipe adapted (barely) from Pasta Sfoglia

Makes 6 servings about 2 pounds (can be halved)

Orecchiette is my favorite type of pasta to be eaten in spring and summer as it works best with light sauces (and makes for a stellar pasta salad).  I love it with any and all roasted vegetables, olive oil, and lots of parmesan.  Peas also make for a nice addition since they get caught in the pasta crevice!  (My version below includes mushrooms, peas, and pecorino!)  I streamlined this recipe by doing the whole thing by hand (embrace your inner Italian grandmother) and allowing the dough to rest before shaping.  

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups semolina flour
1 cup water (room temperature)
Rice flour or semolina for dusting

Add the all-purpose flour and semolina flour to a large bowl and create a well in the middle.  Pour the water into the well and gently mix to combine the flour with the water.  When the mixture begins to come together, turn the dough out onto a clear flour dusted work-surface.  Knead the dough until it comes together and is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place the dough in a bowl and allow to rest for one hour.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Lightly dust the counter with flour.  Roll each piece of dough into a 1/4 inch diameter rope.  While rolling you may have to cut the rope into smaller sections as it gets longer.  The dough should yield 14 1/2-inch ropes that are 9 to 12 inches long Cut each rope into 1/4-inch coins.  Use your thumb to make an indention in the center of each coin.  Let the orecchiette dry on a semolia/rice-flour covered baking sheet.

To cook: Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.  Top as you please.

To store: The dough, tightly wrapped in plastic, can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks Defrost in the fridge.  The dough will discolor slightly, but its flavor will not be affected.   The dry orecchiette can be stored in an airtight contained or plastic bag not refrigerated (refrigeration will make them moist and gluey), for up to 2 days.

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