Thursday, August 11, 2011

Orecchiette con Cime di Rape-Orecchiette with Turnip Tops

Orecchiette con Cime di Rape
  We are in the process of re-roofing and so I have been making lunch daily for Ettore and our friend, Roberto, who is helping us with this.  I figure it is the least I can do for them as they burn under the hot August sun.  Our friend, however, has a few products he cannot eat such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and peppers in general, eggplant and potatoes.  It is summer (time for these products).  I have a garden (need to eat these vegetables).  I am in Italy (tomato allergy aaahhhhhh).  What to make?  Yesterday I made lovely pasta with a basil almond pesto.  Today I made orecchiette. 

    I have always liked the texture of Orecchiette, and I like that we buy them fresh, and they do not have egg.  Broccoli Rape are turnip tops and is called  Cime di Rape in Italy.  I have to admit that before I moved here I did not eat anywhere near the amount of leafy greens I do now.  There are so many varieties and often, it just takes going out to your nearest field to gather some.  However, many of the field greens I eat here are very bitter.  While I have grown to absolutely LOVE the bitter field greens, I always feel that the rape is a nice sweeter treat.  Much nicer to eat than spinach with less of a mushy mouth feel. 
According to Wikipedia:
Orecchiette (singular: orecchietta) is a kind of home-made pasta typical of Puglia or Apulia, a region of Southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear. In Italian orecchio means ear, and the suffix 'etto' means 'small'. In the vernacular of Taranto it is called recchietedd, or chiancaredd. A slightly flatter version is called 'cencioni', while in the vernacular of Bari, strascinate are more similar to cavatelli. In China a similar type of pasta is called maoerdo (cat's ears).
An 'orecchietta' is a disc of about 2 cm (¾ inch) and looks like a small dome with its center thinner than its edge and with a rough surface. Like other kinds of home-made pasta, orecchiette are made with durum wheat, water and salt, but unlike pasta all'uovo, eggs are rarely used in the preparation of orecchiette
Couldn’t have said it better myself!  It was a delightful lunch, though I usually add red pepper flakes when I make it, but I didn’t this time for the sake of our friend.
Ingredients for 2-4 servings:
½ kilo of Broccoli Rape already trimmed of stems and blanched
½ kilo of fresh orecchiette
6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 tbsn of olive oil
Splash of white wine
1 tbsn of vegetable broth powder
Sea salt
½ cup of water
Large pot for boiling water
   In a deep pan, sauté the garlic in olive oil, white wine and broth, about 2-3 minutes. If you want yours to be spicy I would add about 2 tspn of red pepper flakes.   Add the water and the broccoli rape and stir well for about 2 minutes, add salt, and then cook and cover for about 5, until tender.  Meanwhile bring water to a boil and add about 1 tbpn of course sea salt.  I like to use Celtic sea salts because of the minerality.  When the water comes to a boil add the pasta, which will sink to the bottom.  When they float to the top, it means they are ready, but I would taste anyway and taste that they are al dente.  It is super easy and a great way to get your daily greens. 

Here is a very interesting video describing a pugliese method for making this dish.  A little more time consuming, but I have had them this way, while obviously omitting the cheese,  and they are incredible!

I would enjoy this with a lovely rosato from Puglia.  Buon Appetito!