Saturday, May 21, 2011

Comfort Pasta: Orecchiette with Asparagus, Red Onion, and Goat Cheese

"Orecchiette" is the hardest pasta to spell.  It's also pretty hard to find decent orecciette recipes.  This one's a keeper though.  It's simple, vegetarian, relatively light, and a great way to eat asparagus. This pasta doesn't have a ton of sauce on it, so it's great with a salad when you want a quick dinner.  It would be a great meal to enjoy out on your patio or deck. 

I'm always cautious when a recipe tells me to reserve some of my pasta's cooking water to stir back into the ingredients later as part of a sauce.   My experience is that there is usually too much cooking water to be added back into the pot.  So, I'm always cautious when returning the reserved cooking water to the pot with my pasta, cheese, and other ingredients.  In this case, I start slow and then usually eyeball it.  If the pasta and ingredients look too dry, I'll splash more water in.  Otherwise, I like to let the cheese and other ingredients do the talking, and not water them down if I don't need to.  

Orecchiette with Asparagus, Red Onion, and Goat Cheese
From Food & Wine
Serves 2

1/2 lb orecchiette
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 red onion, finely diced (I add a little extra)
1/2 lb asparagus spears, cut into 1/2 inch lengths.  Or, if you have other uses for the spears, just cut the tips off an entire bunch of asparagus and save the rest for later. 
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, or to taste
1 Tbsp lemon juice (I double this to 2 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (again, I double this to1 tsp)
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh goat cheese (or a little extra if you like your pasta to be extra goaty)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
hard grating cheese, for garnish.  I used grana padano

1) Boil a pot of water and cook the orecchiette according to the package instructions.  Reserve 1/3 c of the cooking water.
2) While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet that is large enough to eventually hold the pasta as well.  Add the onions and cook over moderate heat until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the asparagus and crushed red pepper.  Cook for another 5 minutes.

3) Add the orecchiette to the skillet along with *some* of the reserved cooking water.  I added about 1 Tbsp.  Add lemon juice and zest and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the apsaragus is tender, about 2 more minutes.
4) Add the goat cheese and chives and stir until the cheese is melted.  If your pasta looks too dry, add more of the reserved cooking water. 
5) Serve in bowls topped with grated cheese. 


Elizabeth said...

That looks amazing! Really great photography work, too.

Scienter said...

Thanks! You can see Dave's head in the table reflection. :P


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