Orecchiette literally translated means “little ears”. This small pasta is from the Puglia region in Southern Italy. Their bowl-like shape are the perfect vessel for holding sauce. This particular recipe uses the pasta water to season and thicken the butter to create a subtly velvety sauce. If you have never added your pasta water to sauce you are missing out. Orcchiette is a fun, delicious pasta, my only question is…who has ears that look like this?
Orcchiette with Kale and Breadcrumbs:
1 lb Tuscan Kale, stems trimmed
2 pieces bacon, cut in lardons
4 T oil
1 c coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 small onion, chopped
1 t capers
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 t red crushed pepper
1 lb orecchiette
3/4 c finely grated Parmesan cheese
Working in batches, cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to a rimed baking sheet, let cool. Set aside pot with water. Squeeze out excess liquid from kale and chop leaves and finely chop stems; set aside.
Heat 3 T oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to paper lined plate; let cool.
Heat bacon lardons in skillet to render fat and crisp bacon. Once fat is rendered, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion, pepper flakes, and capers to the bacon fat. If you need to add more fat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Mash the capers with the back of the spoon and cook mixture until the onions are translucent. Add the reserved Kale, bacon lardons and 1/2 c water. Cook, stirring often, until kale is warmed through, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, bring the reserved kale cooking liquid to a boil, add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta and 1/2 c pasta cooking liquid to the kale mixture and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, add more cooking liquid as needed until sauce coats pasta. Mix in the Parmesan and 1/2 c of the breadcrumbs.
Serve and top with remaining breadcrumbs and more cheese. Enjoy!