Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasThe 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.

Barilla (store brand that sells Italian products) 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.
Now for our featured recipe: Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas, and here is what you will need.

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

Garnishes:

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley

Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest

cooking Mexican chorizoHeat 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.

adding chickpeas to meat sauceNext 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.

adding orechiette to meat sauceMeanwhile, 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.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas in the panServe pasta topped with cilantro or parsley (your choice), Parmesan, and lemon zest.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasWe 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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Baked Spinach Stuffed Tilapia

Baked Spinach Stuffed Tilapia

Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish found in shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Tilapia were one of the three main types of fish caught in Biblical times from the Sea of Galilee.

Tilapia have very low levels of mercury,as they are fast-growing, lean and short-lived, with a primarily vegetarian diet, so do not accumulate mercury found in prey. Tilapia are low in saturated fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium, and are a good protein source. They also contain vitamin B-12 and trace minerals such as phosphorus, niacin, selenium, and potassium.

Black pepper adds more than just flavor, it is also good for digestion. Spinach is a cruciferous vegetable, and 4 servings a week of this class of vegetable helps ward off cancer causing cells.

As a side note, this recipe is great nutritional support for those who suffer with Schizophrenia (Read More Here: Nutritional Hope for Schizophrenic Patients).

Here is what you will need for our featured recipe:

8 oz. spinach leaves, trimmed

4 oz. Feta cheese

1 ½ lbs.Tilapia fillets, cut 6 ways

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

6 tbsp. butter, melted

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Cook spinach in large saucepan on low heat until just wilted. Drain and cool. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach; chop finely. Combine spinach and feta in medium bowl.

Cut lengthwise pocket down 1 side of each cut Tilapia, being careful not to cut through. Pack 1/3 cup spinach mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Baked Spinach Stuffed TilapiaBake in heated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until done. Plate and serve with your favorite side dish, such as we have here with a Bacon Cornbread or Baked Parmesan Potato.

Source of information about Tilapia: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

 

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