Sunday, February 27, 2011

Little Ears Pasta

In December, we had a quick weekend trip to the Palazzo in Vegas to meet some of Doug's high school friends. We booked a prestige room package that included champagne and catered nightly cocktail events and the like. Private check in = what I'm talking about! That's where we fell in love with little ears (orecchiette) pasta. It feels like I'm back in elementary school with the spelling. I used to be an editor and had to look this one up.

The Palazzo chef prepared his little ears right in front of us, and it was the best pasta we've ever had. So simple and versatile--my favorite kind of recipe. My only quibble is that these little ears look more to me like seashells.

Simple Orecchiette

Orecchiette pasta, cooked and drained
Parmesan (grate your own--makes the dish!)
Veggie of your choice
Salt and pepper

At the Palazzo, the chef made a simple sauce of cream, butter, salt, pepper, and the veggies. He used finely chopped broccoli. We chop our broccoli that finely in a food processor or blender and add it to the cream and butter. Then he cooked the sauce down to warm the broccoli bits and added parm, tossing the dish with the pasta at the end. We love it this way with a little extra cheese on top--it's literally a revelation, as Doug puts it.

But in the past month or so, we've also expanded our thinking a bit. Sometimes, I don't have broccoli, so I throw in frozen peas instead. It's great with chopped sun dried tomatoes or chopped artichokes and spinach. It would be great with chopped chicken and tomatoes, artichokes, and spinach. While broccoli is still our favorite (the romance of Vegas lingers), we are head over heels for these little ears and all their possibilities.

We get our pasta at Italian markets rather than the grocery store--it tastes so much better and fresher! As a blank canvas, this pasta is a wonderful pantry addition. This little piggy loves it!

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