“One of my all time favorite recipes”
Once at a wedding in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, I befriended a chef by the name of Ricco Deluca. Ricco graduated high school the same year I did and upon graduation went to cooking school where I went to college.
He’s spent the past 27 years working in restaurants while playing in the stock market as a hobby while I spent a good portion of those years working on Wall Street and cooking as a hobby. Minutes after meeting we knew there was a connection and became friends.
Raised by an Italian family of cooks, Ricco has forgotten more about cooking than I ever hope to learn. Years ago, I spent an incredible weekend in Massachusetts where Ricco was cooking and watched him dazzle me with his cooking skills. It was a learning experience I’ll never forget.
Now that I live in Utah, I call him from time to time to say hello and always end up asking for a recipe or technique. He happily takes the time to explain in detail just how a particular dish should be prepared. I’ve even been able to convince him to fax me some of his favorite recipes and this is one of my favorites, Orecchiette with Broccoli rabe.
Orecchiette is pasta made by shaping little disks of dough with one’s thumb to resemble a shallow mushroom cap. They are often referred to as “little ears” or “priests hats”.
Once you see them, you’ll know why. Not the easiest of pastas to find check your local specialty markets. When I do find them, I buy up several bags so I always have some in my pantry.
Broccoli rabe (RAYP), which is also called rapini (rah-PEE-nee), is also difficult to find but also can often be purchased at your local specialty market. First of all broccoli rabe is not related to broccoli. It is family to both the cabbage and turnip.
With green leaves, a 6 to 9-inch stalk and little clusters of broccolilike buds, rabe is extremely bitter. Although not that popular here in the States as a vegetable, rapeseed oil is pressed from the seeds and is marketed under the name Canola oil.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- 1 pound Broccoli Rabe washed, trimmed, and cut into 3 inch pieces
- ⅓ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 6 cloves garlic sliced thin
- ¼ teaspoon dried chili pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- While you are bringing 3 quarts of water to boil to cook the pasta, chop the onion and slice the garlic. Have the rest of the ingredients close at hand and you are ready to go.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the orecchiette, cook for 8 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and continue cooking for 8 minutes.
- In the mean time, add olive oil to a large sauté pan and cook onions over high heat for 6 minutes.
- Add garlic and chili pepper and lower heat.
- Drain the orecchiette and broccoli rabe, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
- Add orecchiette and broccoli rabe to the sauté pan along with reserved cooking liquid.
- Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
- Toss well and serve.