Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks‘ July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with! Needless to say I couldn’t have been more excited when I read about this month’s challenge! I love to make pasta from scratch!!! I make all sorts of pasta, from egg pasta to “normal” pasta to pizzoccheri to stuffed pasta… you name it, I’ve made it. And how could it be otherwise? I am Italian after all! Even if nowadays Italians usually buy ready made pasta from the supermarket, we still know our way around dough and rolling and shaping all sorts of pasta. I have a motorized pasta machine, but I never use it… I find that it takes more time to assemble and clean it than to just make the full thing by hand. Also, you cannot make certain shapes with a machine… I prefer to use a manual machine to roll sheets of dough, but I decided not to use that either… otherwise, what challenge would it be?? All you need to make this pasta is a rounded knife, a wooden board and your hands. This pasta is also healthy and so much fun to make… The pasta is called orecchiette and is typical of the southern regions of Italy, above all Puglia and Basilicata. Their name means “little ears” as they look like little ears in shape. I am posting the tutorial on “How to make orecchiette” in the Techniques page of this site, as I always do with dishes like this. As for the sauce, I decided to make a traditional vegetarian sauce that is typically eaten with this pasta. The original recipe calls for rabe, but I could not find any in the local supermarket, so I settled for bok choy and I can tell you that I was more than satisfied with the result. It is less bitter than the original sauce with a hint of “lemon” which goes great with the spiciness of the sauce and the saltiness of Pecorino. Try it and you will be hooked, just like my family and I!
Ingredients (for 4 persons):
1 kg bok choy (or rabe), wilted and cut in 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces
2 cloves garlic, halved
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ to ½ tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp diced tomatoes
Pecorino Romano to serve
400 gms orecchiette
Start by cleaning and wilting the vegetables in hot salty water. They have to become soft and must cook through.
When ready, drain them but PRESERVE the cooking liquid as you can use it to cook your pasta. In this way the pasta will have much more flavour. Let them cool down and then cut them into 2.5cm pieces.
Put the halved garlic cloves in a frying pan with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and chilli flakes and let them fry on a low fire for a minute or two.
Make sure not to brown the garlic or it will taste bitter. Now add the tomatoes and let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the cut vegetables and salt and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes, and then turn the fire off.
In the meantime, cook the orecchiette following the steps on “How to cook pasta al dente”. Only in this case you should use the water in which you cooked your vegetables and you will not have a pre set cooking time. This will vary on the thickness of your orecchiette (it should take approximately a couple of minutes). So, the best solution is to taste it! Remember, it does have to remain firm.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it, put it in the frying pan with the vegetable sauce and put the fire on a medium flame.
Add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and stir well making sure the pasta is well coated and mixed in the sauce.
Serve it hot with a generous amount of finely grated Pecorino Romano on the top and enjoy it.
On a completely different note, I have submitted the Moussaka recipe for this month’s challenge over at FoodFrenzy. This month’s ingredient is cinnamon… and mine is the only savoury dish in the contest! If you liked the recipe, please take a minute and vote for it here. The voting is on between July 15th and 24th. Thank you very much! <3