Using seasonal ingredients is key! Here in Italy the best looking item at the open-air market this week was the Broccoli. With this inspiration my husband Gregorio and I decided to share one of our favorite recipes, and one we look forward to cooking during a 2015 Dinner in the Field.  As you prep the ingredients keep in mind the food always tastes better when you share the experience with people you love, so grab a friend or family member to help you with the meal.  I grabbed Gregorio to help make the Orecchiette, we ended up with lots of different sizes, and a lot of laughs. 

Recipe Serves 4 

Ingredients for Orecchiette

  • 3 cups semolina flour
  • 1 cup water (room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Parmigiano, Broccoli, & Alici

  • 1 large head of Broccoli preferably with leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves cut in half
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup pasta water (this is the water that remains after cooking the Orecchiette)
  • 1 tin of Alici (six anchovies)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese 

Orecchiette Directions

  1. Combine semolina & salt in a mound on a clean work surface.
  2. Create a pile with the flour mixture and create a well in the center. Pour half the water and all of the olive oil into the well. 
  3. (Ok, this is the scary part, but don’t be intimidated.) Incorporate flour mixture into the water using your fingertips.
  4. When all the water is absorbed, continue adding water, little by little, until mixture begins to form a dry dough. (You may have to add a bit more water to create a dough depending on the humidity and temperature of your kitchen.)
  5. Continue to knead the dough, it should look smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes
  6. Completely wrap the dough tightly in plastic and let sit for 20 minutes.
  7. Divide the dough into 10 different sections and cover the sections with a damp kitchen towel.
  8. Roll the dough sections into ½ inch tall rope strands and then cut strands into ½ inch size pieces. (Keep in mind, these are just estimations, please have fun with the process and add your own personal touch.)
  9. Now you are ready to create the Orecchiette shape! Squish the dough cubes straight down with your thumb and then keeping the same pressure, drag your thumb/Orecchiette dough on the work surface away from your body an inch and then to the right an inch.
  10. Leave the Orecchiette on a sheet tray that has been heavily sprinkled with semolina flour and cover with a light towel.  The pasta will be ready to cook after drying at room temperature overnight.
  11. Cook Orecchiette like any fresh pasta. Boil a big pot of water, salt the water so it tastes like the ocean, and once the water is at a rolling boil add the Oricchette and cook for about 2 minutes. 
  12. *Save ¾ cup pasta water to add to the Broccoli while it cooks.
  13. When the Orecchiette is ready they will float to the surface.  Be ready to strain and cool the pasta with cold water.  They cook very fast and we want to stop the cooking process when they are “al dente” so we have time to make the Broccoli & Alici mixture. 

Parmigiano, Broccoli, & Alici Directions

  1. In a fry pan over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil and garlic.  Sautee the garlic for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the garlic from the pan leaving your now garlic-infused olive oil. 
  2. Add the cleaned florets of broccoli, slices of broccoli leaf with the center stem removed, and the pasta water to the fry pan. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the can of Alici (6 anchovies and their oil) to the broccoli and cook for 5 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.  The Alici will melt with the heat and of the pan and dissolve to a beautifully complex flavor that no one will know is anchovies unless you tell them.
  4. Mix in the Orecchiette pasta and reheat for about 2 minutes, then turn the burner off and add in ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, saving the remaining ¼ cup for garnishing the plates.
  5. Mangia and enjoy with family and friends!