A good friend I’ve known since high school flew in from Denver a couple of weeks ago for a family get-together. Since Cape Cod is a favorite vacation destination, I’m always happy to see old friends and make a special meal for their visit. I was still trying to decide what to make when my friend Kathy called to invite Roger and me to dinner at the beach house she had rented. Well, that was a tasty turnaround!
Kathy made a really simple, really delicious orecchiette pasta dish with broccoli rabe. I immediately had my nose in it trying to figure out what gave it such a savory flavor. I could smell and taste the garlic, of course, but still had trouble identifying the secret ingredient. It turned out to be anchovies! It gave it such a depth of flavor that I knew I was going to make it at home myself. I don’t know why but I’ve never cooked anything with anchovies before. Now that I’ve crossed the self-imposed boundary, I’m not going back and plan to do more experimentation.
When Kathy’s husband Tom realized how much I like the pasta dish, he told me Kathy would send me the recipe. Kathy just laughed and told him, “Fran’s already figured out how to make it!” Once she told me the “secret” ingredient, I had indeed.
By the way, I made a double batch of watermelon sorbet and brought over a tub of it for dessert. It was a light and refreshing finish to the delicious pasta.
Good friends and good food…it doesn’t get any better than that!
One year ago: Mar-A-Lago Turkey Burger
Two years ago: Watermelon Lemonade
Three years ago: Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon Cream Filling
Four years ago: Grilled Corn and Tomato – Sweet Onion Salad
Five years ago: Black and White Cookies
Orechiette with Broccoli and Anchovies
- 1 lb. orecchiette or similar pasta, e.g., radiatore or shells – cooked al dente
- Olive oil
- 1 2-oz. can anchovies, finely chopped
- 6 to 8 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 bunch broccoli or broccoli rabe, cut into bite-sized pieces and steamed to tender crisp
- 3/4 to 1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1 to 2 cups reserved pasta cooking water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook the orecchiette in a large pot of salted water. For you novice pasta cookers, bring the pot of water to a boil before adding the pasta! Cook the pasta al dente or to your preferred level of texture. When you drain the pasta, don’t forget to save a couple of cups of the pasta cooking water!
While the pasta is cooking, heat up 1/4 to 1/3 cup of olive oil in a very large frying pan. (I used my 12″ frying pan because it is large enough to hold the pound of pasta and broccoli. If you don’t have a really large frying pan, you can just put the pasta in a large serving bowl and scrape the anchovies and garlic into it, along with the broccoli, Romano cheese, and pasta water.) Sauté the chopped anchovies until they break down somewhat. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or so until the garlic just starts to turn color.
If the pasta is done, add it to the pan. If not, set the frying pan aside until the pasta has finished cooking and then add the pasta to the pan. Stir the pasta so that the anchovies and garlic are evenly distributed over the pasta. Add the cooked broccoli or broccoli rabe and stir into mixture. Sprinkle the Romano cheese over the pasta. Drizzle with enough pasta water to melt the cheese a bit and form a nice coating over the pasta. Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with more Romano cheese.
Using reserved pasta water and grated cheese is a common technique I use to make a cheesy coating over pasta. I gave approximate quantities of the cheese and pasta water as I usually just play around with it until I get the results I want. I adore Romano cheese, so I use the full cup of cheese and then just keep adding water until I like what I see.
Source: A frantastic original inspired by a dish I enjoyed at a friend’s