Orecchiette, Zucchini & Leeks
I love this pasta shape, because it is so silly. Orecchiette means "little ears" in Italian, and indeed, they look like round curly ears. When shopping, try to get a zucchini and leek about the same diameter as the orecchiette, to keep the size of the ingredients consistent.
This pasta dish is very special. The flavors are crisp, clean and complimentary. The vegetables are blanched instead of sautéed. Only a small amount of oil is used to enhance the tastes, rather than mask them. The garlic is added raw, but is mellowed by first marinating in the oil. The sweet and tart sun-dried tomatoes contrast in color and flavor with the peppery bite of the basil. And the whole thing is tightened at table by the pungent sharpness of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Savor this dish. You'll be able to taste each ingredient separately and distinctly. It is light, it is fresh, and it is subtle. Like a good wine, it should be rolled across all the taste buds of your tongue.
Orecchiette are sold in Italian and gourmet shops, but rarely have I seen them in regular grocers' aisles. Of course, as long as you have all the other ingredients, any firmly shaped pasta will work in this recipe. But none of the others will be quite as round and playful as those curly little Italian ears.
This recipe serves 4 as a side dish or first coarse. As a main meal, I would double the quantities.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
- 1 thin zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 thin leek, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1/2 pound orecchiette pasta
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
- fresh cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pour the olive oil into a large pasta bowl. Add the garlic and the sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside.
Heat a large pot of salted water. When water boils, blanch the zucchini and leek rounds for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, remove them from the water, but keep the water heating over a medium-high flame. Rinse the vegetables under cold water to stop the cooking process, then let them drain.
Bring the same cooking water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain briefly, but do not rinse.
Pour the pasta into the bowl with the oil mixture. The pasta should be drained but with some water still clinging to it. Add the blanched vegetables, basil and fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste. Toss all ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
Serve the pasta topped with a generous sprinkling of grated cheese and pass more cheese on the side.
Global Gourmet Recipes:
©1994, Katherine Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
Global Gourmet Recipes
This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007