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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Italian orecchiette with Parmesan cream, bell peppers and olives

The orecchiete is a artisan pasta of Apulia, a region from southern Italy. Their name means "little ears" and they bear it because of their shape. The pasta is traditionally made by women who squeeze little snail-shaped pasta with their thumbs before allowing them to harden in the sunlight. Experts say they probably originated from Provence (a region in France) in the Middle Ages and were brought to Italy by the Anjous dynasty.

But what's really special about them (at least to us) is that they have a lovely light and foamy consistency. As to how we prepared it here, we cannot say more than "love the Parmesan and red pepper flavor and this sauce's creaminess".
Another dish of orecchiette: Broccoli and pancetta orecchiette.

Ingredients (serves 2):
  •  250 g orecchiete (you can find them in larger stores in the special cuisine areas)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 50 g parmesan
  • 100 g cream
  • 125 g pepper-stuffed green olives (or simple green olives)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • a little olive oil
Put the orecchiete to boil in salted water over medium heat source:

Let them boil according to package instructions. You'll find that they need a longer time to boil than usual pasta (about 18-20 usually) so it will give you enough time to do the rest. Get the bell pepper, wash it and start cutting it in bite-size pieces:

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and put the minced bell pepper in it:

Leave it fry for a couple of minutes. In the meantime peel and finely cut (or smash the garlic clove). Add the garlic, thyme and salt to the pan:

Stir a little to mix everything up, then grate or finely cut the parmesan:

Put it aside and slice the olives, each into 3-4 slices:

Add the parmesan to the frying pan:

Stir and let the cheese melt for 2-3 minutes (on low heat), then add the cream:

Stir and let the sauce thicken and blend in for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the olives:

Let the sauce fry some more for another 2 minutes. If the pasta still isn't ready, you may keep the sauce pan on the heat source, but on the lowest intensity. 
When the pasta is done, drain it, don't wash it, just arrange it on two plates and pour the sauce on them directly from the pan. This dish can be served warm or cold, still good. Dig in!

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