1. Orecchiette con broccoli

    serves 2 as a first course

    the pasta dough:

    1 c + 1 T semola di grano duro

    1/2 c water

    OR 

    160 g dried orecchiette

    the sauce:

    2 cloves garlic, peeled + crushed

    2 T extra virgin olive oil

    1 pinch dried red pepper flakes

    4 anchovies + a splash of their oil

    1 head broccoli, florets only

    the topping:

    1/2 c breadcrumbs

    2 T olive oil

    more olive oil for drizzling

    1. Mix together the semolina + water in a large bowl using your fingertips at first. Knead until it feels a lot like play-doh, 2-3 minutes. If it’s humid or too wet, add a bit more semolina. If it’s too dry, dip your fingers in a glass of water and continue kneading. Keep in mind the moisture will distribute more evenly while resting. Cover and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes. 2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add broccoli and cook until very tender, about 15 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat olive oil on medium heat, throw in garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes. When anchovies have melted, turn the heat to low. Bash them a bit with your wooden spoon if they need a little help. 4. Strain broccoli and add into the skillet, turn the heat to medium low. Reserve the broccoli cooking water and keep warm on stove. 5. While you make the pasta, cook broccoli in skillet slowly for at least 30 minutes, ladling the cooking liquid in repeatedly when dry (similar to the way you make risotto, minus all the stirring) mashing with a wooden spoon, until it becomes a thick sauce. 6. While the sauce is cooking, roll out your orecchiette. don’t know how? click here, i’ll show you. You may also use dried pasta. 7. While you roll our the pasta, have a dinner guest make the topping. Put the breadcrumbs and oil in a small skillet + toast on medium low heat until crispy and browned, about 4 minutes. Plate and set on the table. 8. By the time you finish making the pasta, the sauce should be ready. Bring the broccoli cooking liquid back up to a rolling boil, add salt if necessary, and throw in your orecchiette. If fresh, only cook until floating, less than a minute. Remove garlic gloves from sauce if whole enough to find and discard, strain orecchiette and put directly into skillet with sauce, keep this flame on medium heat. Mix with a wooden spoon for another minute or so, until sauce begins to make its way into the ears and the pasta takes on a green-ish hue. Add pasta water if dry. Set your serving plates atop the pasta water pot while you mix in the sauce to warm.  9. Serve immediately sprinkled with 2-3 spoons of toasted breadcrumbs and add healthy drizzle of the best olive oil you have on hand. 

    This is one of my absolute favorite recipes and a staple in my kitchen. I had it for the first time in northern Sicily, prepared by my cousin Lia. When describing the recipe during lunch she said, “first you have to kill the broccoli”. It’s true.

     
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