Orecchiette with Arugula


Orecchiette con la Rugola

Serves 4 to 6


Wheat, olive oil, vegetables and fish are the basic staples of Puglia's gastronomy, which is strongly rooted in the land. This is a simple dish that relies entirely on the quality of its ingredients. Look for imported orecchiette, extra-virgin olive oil from Puglia, and fresh young arugula.

  • 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (about the size of small green olives)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh arugula, thoroughly washed and stems removed
  • 1 pound orecchiette, cavatelli, or shells
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  •    or 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook until they are tender but still a bit firm to the bite, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the potatoes, place in a bowl, and set aside until ready to use.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies and garlic, and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to color, about 1 minute. Add the potatoes, season them with salt and generously with pepper, and mix them well with the savory base. Turn the heat off under the skillet.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, the arugula, and the pasta. Cook, uncovered, over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender but still a bit firm to the bite. Scoop up 1/2 cup of the cooking pasta water.

Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Add the pecorino or Parmigiano cheese and mix everything well over low heat. Add a bit of the pasta water if pasta looks too dry. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.


Italy al Dente
The Glories of Italian Cooking
by Biba Caggiano
Photographs by Ellen Silverman
William Morrow & Company, Inc.
1998, Hardcover, US $25.00
Recipes & photos reprinted by permission


Italy al Dente


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