orecchiette with cherry tomatoes and arugula

Last night, I sauteed some shallots, minced garlic, red and yellow cherry tomatoes and fresh arugula with orecchiette pasta for dinner, and we topped it with a cloud of microplaned parmesan, eating it in front of the (omg) Wire finale. I’m pretty sure it was delicious, though I was barely paying it any mind. Alas, this is the point where you are supposed to ask me, Hey Deb, why does your orecchiette look so… er, unique?

And I will say, I’m so glad you asked! Like any other reader with drool-prone taste buds and a carb-fixation, I was completely spellbound by Delcious Days’ stunning creation of orecchiette a few weeks ago. She made it look so easy! Now I have never made pasta before, nor was I sure I desired to when such good, professional fresh stuff abounds in NYC. I lacked a master recipe, special tools, a single iota of apprenticeship or education on the subject, but this didn’t stop me from trying my hand at it on Sunday night with a very imaginative (read: unmeasured or weighed) interpretation of Nicky’s recipe.

a wee bit soft

Flying by the seat of my pants, I mixed about 2 cups of Italian “00” (doppio zero) flour with 2 eggs and a pinch of sea salt (not gray, mind you), kneaded them up for a good chunk of time on a wooden cutting board, wrongly decided it was too hard, added a splash of water, incorrectly determined it to be the perfect consistency, wrapped it tightly in foil, packed in the fridge for 30 minutes, took it out and created long dowel-like ropes with it and sliced them off into coins. Problem was, the pasta dough was a teensy bit too soft and so they squished into imperfect circles when slivered with the knife, stuck a tiny bit to my palm when I tried to indent them into classic orecchiette shapes, which they did not hold very well. Ah well, I thought, tasting a pinch — tastes like yummy fresh pasta, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

And it was, minus the oh so many, many (did I say many?) minutes it took to boil my leaden ears. But, we loved it just the same and now I’m inspired. If pasta is this easy to make, maybe I should get a pasta wheel? I could roll out super-thin sheets and cut them into fresh pappardelli, or squares for ravioli or tortellini, or… or… or… As you can see, I suspect a fascination is hatching, or perhaps an obsession piggybacked on my already-present fixation with stuffed, wrapped and pocketed consumables.

A note on the ever-expanding flour collection: I understand that traditional pasta, especially in Puglia where orecchiette is from, is made with durum wheat flour and not 00. I chose the 00 because Nicky said she’d had success with it, and it also allowed me to check out a new type of flour. What is 00? Well, apparently (and please, correct me if I’m wrong as all of this is new to me) Italians sort their flours not by gluten level but by grind. A 2 would be a cornmeal-like consistency, 1 and 0 might resemble our all-purpose and 00 is a superfine flour, almost like talcum powder and reminiscent of our pastry flour. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s low-gluten, like many of our pastry flours. I’ve heard that bakers in Italy have up to a dozen 00 available to them, from low-gluten used in pastries to a higher gluten content used in pizza doughs. Sigh, yet another reason for me to wish I lived in Europe.

[That and the near-daily arrive of sling-related bills. Insurance coverage? Oh surely, you must be joking.]


Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula

Serves at least 2

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 pint mixed red and yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
Cooked fresh orecchiette (approx. 2 cups dry but I did not measure)
2 cups fresh arugula, de-stemmed, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated parmesan reggiano

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, adding garlic and shallots, sauteing until soft but not browned. Add chopped cherry tomatoes, cooking for just a few minutes, until they have softened but not lost completely lost their form. Add pasta, reheating it in the sauce and seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the arugula, stirring it until it has just wilted. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan and, in our case, a glass of Cotes du Rhone.

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35 comments on orecchiette with cherry tomatoes and arugula

  1. shhh alex.. some of us enjoy it. Not all of us get to live with her and eat her yummie food. Youre so selfish !

    Wait, you know tim huh… i’ll take back the selfish remark if you hook me up with the drunken slutty pics of tim that debs promised me.

  2. I was just wondering the same thing, Alex! ;) But I do so enjoy the posting. Deb, if you’re ever in the mood, ICE (right around the corner!) offers a great one-night pasta class where you learn all kinds of different pasta doughs (by hand) and then how to roll them into the various shapes (with varying sauces). I spent a fun Friday night doing this a year ago.

  3. Jessica

    Yeah Alex, be quiet! This is the most she’s ever posted since before she married you after all…

    I think the orechiette looks cute.

  4. hahahaa I´ll have to agree with the gals, you get to eat everything Deb makes, so you can´t complain for daily posts (though you do get stuck with the dishes afterall, so maybe you can).

    Anyway, I´m not sure about Italy, but that sounds similar to the system used here in Argentina (which is pretty much Italy and Spain combined when it comes to food): you´ve got 000, which is used for bread and pizza dough, 0000, which is used for pastries, and self-rising flour, which contains baking powder. They are classified according to the grind, 000 being slightly coarser than the 0000.

    What Italians use a lot in pasta doughs and to separate spaguettis and such is semolina, you should try that one if you haven´t.

    And I´m with you on trying your hand at pasta making. I´ve made papardelli twice and it wasn´t hard at all (with a pasta wheel), though it does take quite a bit of work. Gnocci are also quite easy and delicious. I´d say go for it, just think, you don´t have an Italian grandma to live up to like myself lol

  5. Deb, you’re a much braver woman than I but we both know my foray into pizza dough was not successful. Your pictures are amazing and I loved how you brought the word ‘microplane’ into the mix. I’m starting a microplane collection, since I have found three handheld models and several counter contraptions made by the company. Also, I have a separate one for my chocolate work. Alex, let her post, it’s better than her worrying about the bills!

  6. I’ve never tried pasta from scratch… it always look so intimidating. Was it really that easy? I’m going to have to branch out and give it a try. You have yet to steer me wrong! (Of course, I only found your blog a few days ago, but still… in those few days, you haven’t steered me wrong) :)

  7. I know nothing of different flours (am ashamed to admit that every baked or boiled concoction involves the use of unbleached all-purpose flour), but I am absolutely, completely enamored with homemade pasta dough. I use the ratio of 3 eggs : 2 cups flour + splash of olive oil and a little salt, and I’ve found that rolling it by hand is just about as easy as using a roller since this recipe has plenty of moisture. The recipe comes from “Biba’s Taste of Italy” by Biba Caggiano with an original use in lasagna. It’s a very light dough. I never even thought about trying orecchiette – will definitely have to try that!! That sauce looks so fresh too…

  8. Funny thing. I made those last night also, but with semolina, which makes them yellow and chewy. Semolina is coarse, almost like cornmeal — some ended up on the floor of the kitchen, and now it feels like we tracked in sand from the beach . . .

  9. Your Orecchiette creation (pasta & dish) looks absolutely tempting, nice one! As much as I enjoyed my own experience, I don’t think I will prepare this time-consuming pasta very often – my top choice of homemade pasta would still be Tagliatelle, which are easy and fast to prepare with an original pasta maker. Yet, be warned: it’s one of those gadgets one NEEDS to have, but rarely will use… ;)

  10. laura

    Not to make you feel worse but living in Europe you also get a bunch of types of sugar. In addition to the granulated, icing, light and dark brown we all know and love in the USA there are light muscovado, dark muscovado, demerara and caster. Which makes playing with your blondie recipe all the more interesting and fun – replace some light brown with muscovado, add maple flavouring and maple syrup, then use peanut butter chips in the mix. OMG! I can hear them calling me from the freezer!!!

  11. Amazing photography and what a recipe!

    I’ve heard about 00 flour but have never seen it here :( I may have to try specialty good stores to see if anyone stocks it, it’ll be interesting to see how it differs from my regular supermarket-bought all purpose flour!

  12. The pasta is beautiful. Just goes to show you we should all just try it. Life and cooking are about learning and the second time you know more etc. I just bought the little hand roller for pasta and the way I understand it I’m supposed to make a batch up just to clean the machine before the real thing! I think that’s called playing with your food.

  13. hi deb!

    i have ben reading for a while and love the recipes and pictures. even tried a few out myself:)

    i am by no means an accomplished chef, but a few years ago (inspired by a queer eye episode) i bought a pasta roller and have been using it every since i can’t stress how easy it is. ravioli, lasagna, and recently cut pasa have been staples at my house.

    i would def reccomend one for you – if you past dishes are any indication – i am sure you will work wonders with it!

    (i would get a hand rolling one instead of an electric one – you have MUCH more control – also james beard’s pasta book has been indispensible)

  14. I love the frequent post-ALEX!
    Anyhoo-I also love “The Wire”, but don’t have “On Demand” due to my landlord having that damned “Direct Tv” so I wont see the finale until Sunday so no spoilers!

  15. Deb,

    I love you your blog. And I love those slate grey dishes you use!! Wherever did you find them?? Your photography is gorgeous! Hope the arm is healing well…



  16. Charlotte

    Yesterday was a shocker for us midwestern folks – 80 degrees in April? Surely you jest – so feeling very summer-y, I made this. It was exactly what I wanted, such great flavors!

  17. Tamara

    I just made this for a dinner party and it was a real crowd-pleaser. I was happy to find a pasta recipe that didn’t include any dairy products! Would be great with gnocchi too, I think. Tasted very fresh and bright. Thanks for sharing, Deb!

  18. prklypr

    I printed out this recipe eons ago and decided to make it last night – fabulous! If you use good quality store bought pasta, you can easily put it together in under half an hour – a huge plus for any meal :)
    I used baby arugula for a milder taste and added about 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the sauce. Definitely a keeper!!

  19. Sue

    I made this last night with dried pasta, the same shape. I browned 1 lb of italian sausage first and deglazed the pan with 1/3 cup wine. Added all other ingredients but didn’t have shallots so added more garlic. I topped it with a bit of fresh mozzarella and tossed it all together. Super easy, fresh, and delicious. I love how the tomatoes make a light sauce. My family devoured the whole pot.

  20. Liz

    Needed a quick meal soi tried this. I used dried pasta of a not-too-dissimilar shape. My carnivorous husband balked at no meat so I added a small amount of hot Italian sausage crumbled in with the shallots and garlic. Perfect!

    As a sidebar here- I’ve never seen durum (as in flour and wheat) spelled durham. It’s what we grow so …..

  21. Pam B

    I use this blog more than any other source for recipes. Every single recipe is wonderfully delicious! I made this tonight and it’s so flavorful! I used store bought butterfly pasta and prepackaged baby arugula. Absolutely delicious!!!

  22. This looks delicious! I love making orecchiette but have always made it with semolina flour so good to know that it can work just as well with 00 in case I run out of semolina. Puglia is one of my favorite regions in Italy – on a trip there last year, I remember eating orecchiette with salsiccia, mint and breadcrumbs. The mint part sounds weird but it totally lifted the whole dish and I still remember it over a year later!