Southern Italian that is. Dinner last night was fresh orecciette pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, arugula and shaved Parmesan. It was sensational (if I do say so myself). And I must say, I know I’m going through Italy withdrawals when all I can think about is making pasta. Yesterday, while I was running, my mind was replaying memories from Puglia, which is the region of the orecciette, and it made me ‘homesick’. So what better way to cure the blues than to slip into an apron?
First things first, wine! While oogling wines at Whole Foods I decided on a Barbera, this is afterall an Italian dish. This wine was mighty fine, although after reading the label I couldn’t help but think it was marketed just for Americans. The backside label says it pairs nicely with meats, cheeses, burgers and ribs. When’s the last time you had burgers or ribs in Italy??! My point exactly. However, still a favoloso red, and I’m kind of partial to old vines. The history on Barberas reaches back to the midieval times. Quite romatic if you ask me. 🙂
SO, pasta. If you recall, my last pasta-making post was referencing Emiglia-romagna, the region famoso for egg noodles. However, southern Italians make pasta with only flour and water. The orecchiette is a very common pasta in the south. You can find women sitting out in the sun, no doubt gossiping, while pressing little orecchiette rounds. I did a bit of experimenting with my dough. I substituted half the semolina flour for almond meal. My intention was to add a rich, nutty flavor, while boosting the healthy Omega fatty acids and protein content. I don’t know that it made much of a difference in taste, but you can rest assured that the nutritonal value is improved! And just to put you in the cooking mood, here are a few photos I took in Puglia..
Do you feel like you’re in Italy yet? Buonissimo!! Time to tie on that apron and pour yourself a glass of Barbera. Next..
Orecchiette with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula & Shaved Parmesan
65g almond meal (1/2 c)
100g semolina flour (1/2 c)
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz warm water
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
1 T olive oil
1 tsp Herbs de Provance
salt & pepper to taste
Mix dry ingredients, and add water to mixture a little at a time. Once it reaches dough consistency roll it out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Split the batch into two balls and roll each into ropes of 1/2″ diameter thickness. Cut 1/4″ thick slices off the rope and squeeze dough into little rounds. Let stand for 15 minutes and then flip so that pasta can dry on opposite side for 15 minutes. Next, press your thumb into center of the round. Let stand for 1 hour, then reincorporate thumb press. Let stand another 2 hours. Once dried, cook in boiling water for 6-7 minutes, strain. Cool pasta in refrigerator. While pasta is cooling, char tomato halves under the broiler for 10 minutes. Assemble: pasta, tomatoes, fresh arugula, cheese, oil and spices. Simple, elegant, and you feel like you’ve just stepped into another place in time.
Do you make a dish taht reminds you of your favorite place? Or a dish that takes you down memory lane? I’d love to hear about it!