ORECCHIETTE WITH CHICORY, RAISINS AND GARLIC CRUMBS
I love the bitterness of the chicory paired with the sweetness of the raisins, and the crunchy, salty, garlicky crumbs that adorn this dish. Another simple, but rewarding, partner for your orecchiette.
60 g butter
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 x oricchiette (see recipe below)
200 g chicory, roughly chopped
small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
60 g (½ cup) raisins
juice of ½ lemon
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, bruised with the heel of a knife
60 g (¾ cup) toasted breadcrumbs
Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Gently cook the onions with a pinch of salt for 10–15 minutes or until soft and sweet.
Meanwhile, prepare the garlic crumbs. Gently warm the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat with the garlic. After a few minutes, remove the garlic and increase the heat to medium. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring to coat. Fry for 2–3 minutes until crisp and golden. Season with salt and set aside to cool.
Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to the boil and cook the orecchiette for about 5-6 minutes or until al dente.
Add the chicory, parsley and raisins to the onions and stir to coat, cooking for just a minute or two, until the chicory has begun to collapse. Transfer to a large bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice. Drain the orecchiette and mix with the chicory. Season to taste and serve immediately, drizzled with a little extra olive oil and topped with the garlic crumbs.
Orecchiette is perhaps my most loved of all the pasta shapes. A big call, I know, but I think it’s true. Fresh orecchiette, made by hand, is a wonderful thing. It not only is a pleasure to eat, but my favourite to make. The repetitive action of cutting, rolling and flicking gives me time to think clearly. It slows me right down, puts me in that moment – cutting, rolling, flicking. It requires few ingredients and is very capable of feeding hungry guests. Hailing from Puglia, in Italy’s south, orecchiette translates to ‘little ears’, and they are the ultimate sauce-catchers.
200 g tipo 00 flour
200 g semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
generous pinch of fine sea salt
130–150 ml warm water
Tip the flours and salt onto a clean work surface and combine. Create a well in the centre and slowly pour in enough of the water, mixing with your hands, to make a soft but not sticky dough. Knead well for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the pasta dough into four pieces. Cover three of the pieces and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a long sausage shape about 1 cm in diameter, then cut into 1.5 cm lengths. Take one length and, using a flat, non-serrated butter knife, place the knife on top of the piece of dough and drag it towards you, with the knife at a 30-degree angle – the dough should curl up a bit as you drag it and slightly stick to the knife. Using your index finger and thumb, gently invert the orecchiette and pull it away from the knife. This is best done on a wooden surface – so that the dough grips a little – so if you don’t have a wooden bench, use a large wooden cutting board.
The orecchiette should have a rough exterior and plump edges. Place the shaped orecchiette onto a board or tea towel that is generously dusted with semolina flour. Continue the process with the rest of the pasta dough, arranging the orecchiette in a single layer. Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to the boil and cook the orecchiette for about 5–6 minutes, until al dente.
Recipes from Julia's gorgeous cookbook Ostro (Plum Books) You can follow Julia's life of food and cooking on Instagram @juliaostro