The first time we used pasta Orecchiette was around 2009. We had seen a recipe in a food magazine using the pasta, so to the store we went. We had a hard time finding it, but our local co-op (sell’s all natural – organic foods) had the pasta. When we described the pasta (as we had forgotten the name) the sales lady new right away what we wanted. She referred to the pasta as little pope hats. Ever since Orechiette has become a staple in our pantry.
About.com talks on Italian food and describes Orechiette as 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.
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
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, see our recipe here: Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.
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