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Orechiette with Broccoli Rabe and Anchovies

April 25, 2010

What I’d give to have the photos taken years ago of my mother-in-law making orechiette in her tiny Italian kitchen. I watched her make these and when teaching me, she guided my hand the first few times I tried and would just throw any malformed “little ears” back into the big mound of dough we were working from. I have not made them in years but decided it was the perfect dish for an Italian themed dinner with “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pans”. I made them ahead of time but saved some dough to show these other “foodies” how to make the orechiette  then served them as typically eaten in Puglia with broccoli rabe, tossed with olive oil flavored with garlic and hot peppers and topped with crumbled fried anchovies filets. Cheese is not served with this dish. The night was a huge success with many delicious and creative dishes and drinks. Mara wrote a full post of the evening on her blog if you’d like to see the whole thing. It includes limoncello sidecars, bellinis made with prosecco and peach nectar. Amazing olives and huge caper berries, string cheese from a Chicago purveyor, an appetizer that could have been a meal itself  with boiled new potatoes stuffed with a mixture of marscapone, olives, garlic and sardines and for dinner, stuffed zucchini, chicken marsala, parmesan polenta with Bolognese sauce, 2 salads a very light bread made with ricotta and finally the most delicious tiramisu I’ve ever tasted. I brought some homemade limoncello (another post, I promise) and a coffee liqueur made by Patron… I’m full just telling you about it. I’m hoping to figure out how to post videos but in the meantime I hope you are able to follow the images below if you want to try making orechiette. You can also serve them with a simple tomato sauce which catches so nicely in this shape pasta.

Orechiette “Little Ears” con cima di rape e acchiughe

Work  flour, semolina and eggs together until crumbly. Per person use 1/4 cup flour, 1 Tbsp. semolina. For every cup of flour, use one egg and about 1/3 cup warm water.

Gradually add warm water to dough and knead until very smooth and firm. I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer with dough hook. Kneading by hand will take about 10 – 15 minutes. Cover dough with a cloth so it does not dry out. Cut off pieces big enough to make about 4 “logs” at a time.

Roll into 1/2″ diameter logs. Allow to dry for a few minutes. Cut off small piece to start making orechiette. Working on a board with some grip to it is key. A smooth surface will not create the rough surface this pasta shape should have. The edges will be thicker than the middle, domed part.

Press dough with thumb

Keep knife at 45 degree angle to board and drag dough toward you

Continue dragging dough until just before the knife reaches the edge of dough

Turn right side out on tip of thumb

Let orechiette air dry overnight or use after allowing to dry several hours. You can also freeze them on a baking sheet then store in a plastic bag for future use. Do not thaw before cooking.

Rinse anchovy fillets, dredge in flour, fry in oil until browned.  1 anchovy per person provides a nice salty flavor without being too fishy.

Chop 1 clove of garlic per person and heat in olive oil until warmed but not browned. Add a few shakes of hot pepper flakes. This will all be tossed with drained pasta and broccoli rabe.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe, cook for 30 seconds then add pasta. Cook for a minute or two until al dente. Drain then toss with olive oil. Serve with anchovies on top.

OR make a simple tomato sauce …

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2010 6:31 am

    I so loved being able to enjoy this dish with you on Thursday! I may attempt it on my own, as it was the favorite leftover I brought home!


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