Orecchiette means ‘little ears’ and that’s exactly what these dense, hard pasta shapes look like. Made from just flour and water, they require skill and patience to make by hand, as well as plenty of time and lots of effort, so many cooks prefer to simply buy a packet of dried orecchiette. This dish is from Puglia.
Recipe excerpted from The Italian Regional Cookbook by Valentina Harris
- 4 oz bacon lardons or pancetta, cubed
- 2 1⁄4 lb green cauliflower florets
- 14 oz fresh orecchiette
- 1 1⁄3 cups grated pecorino cheese
- sea salt and ground black pepper
- Place the lardons or cubed pancetta in a cold frying pan. Heat gently until the fat runs, then cook without browning for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook them for 5–7 minutes.
- Add the orecchiette to the pan, stir once and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the pasta shapes rise to the surface of the water.
- Drain the cauliflower and the orecchiette, and transfer the mixture into a warmed serving bowl.
- Add the fried lardons or pancetta and the grated pecorino cheese to the orecchiette and cauliflower mixture.
- Add a generous grinding of black pepper to the orecchiette mixture, toss well to mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly and serve immediately.
- You can use streaky/fatty bacon instead of pancetta or lardons, but fry it until crisp before adding it to the pasta.
- You can use dried pasta if you add the cauliflower to the pan towards the end of the pasta’s cooking time.