Orecchiette, Chicory, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Horse-Meat Salami & Salted Ricotta
Back to my roots again this suppertime and a very Southern Italian-inspired dish here, filled with all the flavors of "the heel of Italy" and reminding me so wonderfully of my trip to Lecce, in Puglia this Summer...
Orecchiette with chicory are an absolute classic and a favorite at all times in Puglia... but I recently bought a horse-meat salami that I have been eager to try out in a fitting recipe- and along with a handful of sun-dried tomatoes and some salted Ricotta cheese- this simple recipe was just about as fitting as fitting could be!
As I mentioned last night on Facebook, these greens, the chicory, were the outer-leaves of the lovely puntarelle that I made into a salad last night. My motto is absolutely to waste not and want not!
These slightly tougher and mildly bitter leaves are still so tender that they cook-down in next to no time and are a great ingredient to use in so many Southern Italian dishes- and they are so flavorful and healthy- I love them!
So, for one glorious dish of orecchiette, I needed around 2 handfuls of chicory, 3-4 sun-dried tomatoes, 1 shallot, 2-3" of horse-meat salami (or any other that you may prefer), about a teaspoon of fennel seeds and some salted Ricotta cheese for grating.
Yes, the horse-meat salami IS very tasty and yes i did enjoy it very much... but also yes, of course you can use any other salami you like when you make yours if you have a problem with that particular kind of meat- or the thought of it.
It's the matured, salty flavor of the salami that will give the pasta its seasoning, along with the sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta... no other salt added! So this will work as long as it is salami- or even bacon if push comes to shove... only... if you CAN do it my way- do so! The result really is exceptionally good!
Rinse and chop the chicory and pop it, together with 2 handfuls of orecchiette into boiling water.
In the meantime, finely chop 2-3" of the salami, finely slice the sun-dried tomatoes and finely chop the shallot.
By now the pasta and greens will have come up to the boil again, so return the heat to a simmer and in the following 5 minutes, prepare the other ingredients, so that you can bring everything together in your frying pan to finish them off.
Fry the salami, shallot and sun-dried tomato together with a teaspoon of fennel seeds in the salami's own fat- no need for any extra oil.
After 3-4 minutes, the salami will begin to turn crispy, the shallot to turn golden and the tomato so soak up the juices... perfect!
Drain the orecchiette, but no to thoroughly and add them along with enough water to cover the bottom of the frying pan to the other ingredients. Continue cooking together and stirring, so that the saltiness of the salami and sun-dried tomatoes infuses into the pasta and greens.
Serve with some grated, salted Ricotta cheese and freshly ground pepper and a scoop or too of that good, flavorful broth... and enjoy!
So full of flavor from the otherwise salty ingredients- this is a dish full of balance of bitter-sweet, salty and mild... it is everything that Italian cooking is all about!
We are not all about tomato sauce or pizza down in the South- we love our bitter greens and we love our simple dishes! And yes, yet again, this is MY kind of food!