Orecchiette alla ricotta, salvia & agrumi
Puglia is a wonderful region in Italy. After just returning from a week of gastro-indulgence between Bari and Taranto I have brought back some pasta, oranges, oil and wine and I’m keen to continue this style of food and flavours for now at least. But – saying that, I need to cut back on the quantity and calories and this pasta dish does it.
All the ingredients used in this pasta dish (including the pasta) is typical of this area. We hiked along the gravines of Massafra and the wild shrubs of sage, thyme and rosemary were brushing against our clothes, the scent permeating and following us on our trip. ( I couldn’t help to think about how some wild boar or goat would taste that could be grazing on these).
It is a light and delicate pasta recipe, not as robust as what is typical from this area. The ricotta is added at the last minute so the dish will not be hot, for me it suits the sunny days that are approaching this spring.
This is very quick and simple. Serves 2.
3 handfuls of orrechiette, 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 7 fresh or dried sage leaves crumbled or torn, finely grated rind of half a lemon and orange *, a few shakes of dried chili flakes, 2 tablespoon of ricotta, a few fresh fennel fonds finely chopped (optional, but highly recommended – I added these half way through my meal and I loved it)
Prepare the water for the pasta and meanwhile over low heat, put the oil in a frypan with the sage, citrus rind and chilli. Allow to slowly heat up. The oils of the citrus and sage will infuse the olive oil. After 5 minutes, turn off and read a book or something while you wait for the pasta to be al dente.
When the pasta is pronto, drain it very well (otherwise the oil wont stick to the pasta and it will be a watery oily mess) add the pasta to the oil and mix well so it coats the pasta. Add the ricotta too and mix. Serve on plates and finish with the fennel tips.
* grating citrus fruits for pasta requires a very fine grater for the best results. Chunky bits of lemon or orange rind isn’t pleasant for most. A fine microplane grater works best, or a zester followed by some crafty knifework to get the pieces tiny will work if you’ve got the patience. Also make sure that when you grate you don’t grate in one place for too long. The white pith is bitter!