This week’s photo challenge inspired me to look deep into my photo archives. Following the prompt guidelines, I searched for photos that revealed a dialogue or relationship between two photos. Then, it struck me that one of humankind’s oldest “dialogues” is with food. So, I selected pictures which show the cause-and-effect or before-and-after relationship between the chef and the ingredients.
Not surprisingly, I choose an Italian meal–orrechiette with broccoli rabe. It begins in the fruit and vegetable market, the Campo dei Fiori in Rome, where we can join hungry Romans in search of the freshest produce.
It continues in the kitchen, where I wash and chop the fresh broccoli rabe, which has a bolder taste than its mild-mannered cousin, broccoli. It is slightly bitter and blends well with assertive spices like garlic and hot pepper and savory sausage. After cooking it in a pot of boiling salted water, I lift it out of the pot with a slotted spoon.
Bringing the pot of water to another boil, I add the dry orrechiette pasta and cook it for about 10 minutes. While it cooks, I heat some oil in a frying pan with some hot pepper flakes, garlic, salt, and pepper and add the broccoli rabe.
When the pasta is cooked after about 10 minutes, I add it to the frying pan with the broccoli rabe mixture and give it a good stir. When it’s heated through, I serve it in a bowl topped with fresh parmigiano cheese, a few more hot pepper flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, and some pepper. Delicioso! I can’t think of better dialogue–between these fresh ingredients and my stomach. The cheese, spices, and sauce cling to little ear-shaped pasta and deliver a burst of flavor with each bite. In fact, “orrechiette” means “little ears” in Italian. Adorable, no?
For those of you, who would like to try this recipe at home and want exact measurements, here’s William Sonoma’s version of the dish, made with sausage. I’ve had this dish both ways and they are equally delicious. What’s your favorite “dialogue” with food? Is it with chocolate? Meat or fish? Details, please!
Orrechiette Pasta With Broccoli Rabe
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian, by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).:
- 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup plain fine dried bread crumbs (Note from Patti: This is optional!)
- 2 Tbs. sea salt, plus more, to taste
- 1 1/2 lb. broccoli rabe, trimmed
- 1 lb. dried orecchiette
- 1/2 lb. Italian sweet fennel sausage, casings discarded and meat coarsely
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese