Thursday, July 25, 2013

Orecchiette with Roasted Peppers and Spinach


You may not be familiar with orecchiette. I wasn't familiar with it until a few years ago. It's also referred to as "Little Ears" pasta. Once I discovered this pasta, it quickly became one of my favorites. Orecchiette has a thicker, almost chewy texture compared to traditional pasta. The "scoop" shape allows the sauce to hide in the crevices of the pasta. Yummers.

A couple of things I've learned about orecchiette. It's very important to treat orecchiette delicately. I find the pasta loses its mystique if it breaks. Therefore, treat the dried pasta gently. Do not crush the pasta, don't toss it around, and stir gently when preparing. I brought some orecchiette from Oregon across country when we moved, and needless to say, the pasta was in pieces by the time we got to Kentucky. It just didn't taste the same. Big disappointment, as this pasta can be hard to find in the rural grocery stores here.

This dish is perfect for summer, capitalizing on fresh grape tomatoes, peppers, and spinach. Instead of a heavy marinara or cream-based sauce, this is made with a light vinaigrette. It makes for a light, one-dish, meatless summer meal. Something the hubby and I both appreciate on these hot summer days :)


Ingredients:

1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
8 oz orecchiette pasta
1 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
8 oz grape tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 cups spinach
Shredded parmesan cheese (garnish)

Directions:

1. Preheat broiler on oven. Cut peppers in half, remove seeds and membranes. Flatten halves, and place under broiler. Broil 10-15 minutes or until peppers are blackened. Remove from oven and place in a ziploc bag for 15 minutes. Remove from bags, peel off skins, cut peppers into slices, and set aside.
2. Cook pasta according to directions. Retain 1/3 cup of cooking water. Set aside.
3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 clove garlic to skillet, toast for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and bell peppers to skillet. Cook 4 minutes, or until tomatoes are tender.
4. In a small bowl, combine remaining garlic, vinegar, and next 5 ingredients. Whisk throughly.
5. Add pasta and vinegar mixture to skillet. Toss to combine. Add spinach to the pan, stir just to combine. If pasta feels too thick, drizzle some reserved pasta cooking water over the pasta, stir to combine. Remove skillet from heat, and garnish with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

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