Orecchiette: A Traditional Pasta We Know Little About

While most of us call ourselves pasta lovers, we tend to play safe by cooking or ordering only the popular ones like spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine or penne. One pasta type highly recommended by pasta experts and Italian restaurants, especially if you’re into veggies, is orecchiette. Mainly because they are like mini bowls that take on more sauce, making each orecchiette piece in your mouth satisfyingly tasty.

The Italian word orecchiette means tiny ears, being the best way to describe its shape. While it’s not common the way spaghetti is, Italians have had this pasta dish for more than 700 years or so, ever since it gained popularity in Puglia, during the 12th and 13th century. Traditionally this pasta variety is best cooked with broccoli and Italian sausage.

Orecchiette con Cima de Rapa

Today, orecchiette is widely popular in Italy, especially in regions like Puglia, Lazio and Campania, where different varieties of broccoli and cauliflower are grown. Nonetheless, Italian restaurant chefs have come up with different orecchiette vegetable sauces, but the traditional Orecchiette con Cima di Rapa” is still the most sought after.

Although cima de rapa mean “carrot top’ it refers to a leafy broccoli type known as rabe or rapini, which has a hint of bitter flavor, and sauteed in garlic and extra virgin olive oil. In Puglia, Orecchiette Con Cima Rapa traditionally has larger sized pasta, while orecchiette in smaller sizes are usually served with tomato sauce and meatballs.

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