Friday, June 30, 2017

Orecchiette with cherry tomatoes and baby spinach

Pasta is fun. It comes in so many different shapes. Tonight I used a pasta called orecchiette or little ear. It's a shape that originated in Southern Italy. Mini penne would also be a good choice. The trick is to use a pasta shape that allows the successful blending into the pasta of other ingredients. I find this is very hard to do when using spaghetti. The added vegetables tend to separate from the long strands of pasta.

Ingredients (2 servings)

10 oz. cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 small, minced garlic clove
3 Tbsp olive oil 
150gr orecchiette
1 cup of packed, baby spinach
2 oz. grated Parmesan
A sprinkle of dried, crushed, hot pepper 
Salt, fresh ground pepper

Cooking details

Set ample water for the pasta on the stove set to high. While the water is heating, gently fry two crushed garlic cloves over medium heat in 3 Tbsp of olive oil. Let the cloves sizzle gently for ten minutes but don't let them burn. At the end of ten minutes, remove the crushed cloves and add the minced garlic. Again, do not burn. Thirty seconds may be all the time needed for the minced garlic to start turning a light, golden brown. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue frying over medium heat with occasional stirring.

At this point the pot of water should be at a rolling boil, add the orecchiette. Keep stirring the tomatoes now and then and, if the tomatoes should start to shrivel, turn the heat to low. When the pasta is done al dente, remove a cup of pasta water, pour off the remaining water and add the pasta to the deep pan with the tomatoes. Stir all and then fold the baby spinach into the mix. Add as much of the retained pasta water as necessary and serve as soon as the small spinach leaves have wilted.

At the table, sprinkle on the grated Parmesan, add a twist or two of grated, fresh pepper plus a pinch or two of dried, crushed, hot pepper. Salt if necessary. Oh, I forgot to mention the red wine. Something Italian and dry goes very nicely but I cheated and served a Jackson Triggs red wine from a box. I am, after all, on a budget.

After thought: My wife and I chatted briefly about my dinner time creation. We both agreed that sprinkling a little Italian seasoning, from Club House or McCormick, over the tomatoes while simmering would add a little extra punch of flavour.

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