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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Orecchiette with Broccoli (Anchovies and Chickpeas)

Most recipes call for broccoli rabe rather than regular broccoli, but my Albenganese friend Cristina d’Abramo taught me this dish and she taught me with regular broccoli, and it was deeee-licious!

I made this as a 2nd pasta for a Spaghettata di Mezzanotte (the first being Spaghetti con aglio olio e pepperoncino – with garlic, oil and hot pepper of course) on Saturday night, and I knew something was missing.  It was delicious, but lacking a taste I knew it should have.  In the middle of the dinner Debbie Fineman (one of 3 Americans at the table) brought up the anchovies.  That was it! The anchovies!  I forgot the darn anchovies!  How can you make this without anchovies!  Well, I did, and as I said it was delicious, but it would have been over the top had I remembered the darn anchovies.
I doubt I will forget them again.
Orecchiette or “Little ears” are easy to find now, so the dish is easy to prepare.  And if you live near a grocer like Fairway or Trader Joe’s, you can get a good imported brand of orecchiette, because as I’ve stated over and over again in this blog, the pasta you buy really makes a difference.

You can add to this recipe, as I did with the Chickpeas (Ceci or Garbanzos) because I am a pescatarian and need protein and this more than a healthy addition, it’s a tasty addition. Lots of people add sausage, be it pork, turkey or whatever you want.  Most people also add breadcrumbs to the pasta after it's cooked.  I usually don't, but it's your choice of course.

I also changed the typical recipe by making it more like a Cacio e Pepe recipe – lots of Pecorino cheese and lots of excellent freshly ground black pepper. 

Ummm – maybe I’ll have this for dinner again tonight!

Hint - The first time Cristina made this pasta for me she told me two things:
   1) When you put the orecchiette into the frying pan, put the flame on high.  It's great when these delicious little ears get just a bit crispy around the edges.
  2)  This delicious pasta dish is always better the 2nd night.  The flavors meld together, add a little olive oil and a bit more Pecorino and you'll be surprised and the difference when you take the first 2nd night bite!

Cristina was right - follow these hints and this dish is extra special!

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