Orechiette is a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, as orecchio in Italian means eat, and Orecchiette means little ears.
The pasta is roughly 3/4 of an inch across, slightly domed, and the centers are thinner than the rim of the pasta. The pastas texture is soft in the middle and more chewy along the rim or outside of the pasta.
The pasta makers “Barilla” says that Orecchiette is the signature pasta of Puglia, describing Puglia as a humble farming land situated along the southeastern coast of Italy.
Here is a video posted to You-Tube of Italian women in Italy making fresh Orechiette pasta.
Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small shallots, chopped
3/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo casings removed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups chicken broth
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
12 ounces Orecchiette
Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute, stirring often, until beginning to brown and smell fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo to pan and break up with a spoon, and cook meat until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
Next add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to meat mixture and mix in. Next add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened a bit, about 15-20 minutes. Next add the can of chickpeas, and mix in, cooking 2 minutes more to heat the chickpeas through.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to packaged instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
Next add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to meat sauce. Continue to cook until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta liquid as needed. You might use the whole cup, and possibly less.
Serve pasta topped with cilantro or parsley (your choice), Parmesan, and lemon zest.
We have had this for left overs a few times, and each time we add cilantro, cheese, and lemon zest. The zest adds great flavor to this dish. Be sure to use it.
For the side salad using candy cane beets, find recipe here: Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.
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