From the beautiful Southern Italian region of Puglia, comes the famous orecchiette pasta.  Meaning “little ears” in Italian they were traditionally shaped by hand on a wooden board; the curved saucer shape and slightly rough texture makes them ideal for holding sauce.

In this simple and healthy recipe, orecchiette are the star of the show.

But here, rather than combining with red sauce, they combine with vegetables to reflect the essence of provincial Italian cooking of the most authentic kind.  Here it’s broccoli, for a most traditional rustic dish.

One taste, and you’re back in Bari or Lecce.

To serve 6, you need these ingredients:

800g/1 ¾ lbs of broccoli

450g/1lb of orecchiette pasta

90ml/6 tablspoons of olive oil (extra virgin olive oil if possible)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

6 anchovy fillets

salt and ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Remove and discard the woody parts of the stems of the broccoli, and cut the florets and stems that remain into 5cm/2inch pieces
  2. Bring to the boil a large pan of water and boil the broccoli until just tender.  This should take around 6-8 minutes. When finished, remove the broccoli pieces to a bowl, but do not discard the cooking water
  3. Add salt to the reserved cooking water and bring it back to the boil. 
  4. Add the pasta to the boiling cooking water and cook until al dente in the usual way
  5. While the pasta is boiling, heat the oil in a small pan and add the garlic.  After 2 minutes add the anchovy fillets and mash them with the garlic into a paste.  Cook this for 3-4 minutes more.
  6. Before you drain the pasta, ladle 1 or 2 cups of the cooking water over the broccoli, then add the drained pasta and anchovy and oil mixture. Mix well, season with the salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.

Enjoy this tonight or prepare it for that quick lunch for a friend.