People say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. In my classroom, during test taking, of course that would be considered cheating, but in food and cooking, I think imitation just means a truly successful dish has been made, and needs to be recreated ASAP.
As you may have noticed, my Sundays have been full of challenging dishes in the last few weeks:
Tonight's dish is a complete and total imitation of the amazing dish that Amy made for our Sisterhood of the Traveling Pans dinner a couple weeks ago. Ever since I had my first bite of it, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. The soft orechiette (little ears) pasta, the slightly bitter broccoli rabe, the sharp saltiness of the anchovy, all glistening with a warm, garlic-spiked olive oil... sigh... It was a vision in a bowl that night:
While out shopping (and maybe purchasing small and adorable bright-colored dishes to be featured later in the week) I knew that I had to make it, and make it TONIGHT.
I started out by following the lesson we'd gotten at my mom's, along with Amy's wonderful tutorial, found on her blog, WorldPlates. The recipe for the orechiette pasta is super simple:
Per person, mix together:
1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. semolina (fine ground hard wheat flour)
Then, for every cup of flour, add in:
1/3 c. warm water
Mix the flour, semolina, and egg together until crumbly, then slowly add in the water until the dough comes together. Knead either by hand or with a dough hook on a mixer until very firm and smooth. I can't even begin to explain how to form the pasta shapes, so I'll let Amy's pictures do the talking.
I ended up with two cookie sheets and a cutting board full of these little suckers:
Sorry for the blurry phone pic, I didn't want to get flour on my fancy camera.
I let the pasta dry about 3 hours (though it should've been longer!) and then further followed Amy's instructions. I heated 1 Tbsp. of good olive oil for every serving, as well as minced one clove of garlic per person, and a small shake of red pepper flakes. I heated them all together, but didn't really cook the garlic. Then, I drained, rinsed, and dredged in flour a can of flat anchovy fillets. Then I sauteed them in a pan with a little oil (less than a tsp.)
Next, a large pot of salted water was brought to a boil, 2 bunches of broccoli rabe were added, then cooked for about a minute. Then I added the pasta and cooked another two minutes in the same pot. Then, I drained the whole pot and tossed the pasta and broccoli rabe mixture with the warm garlic and olive oil and the sauteed anchovies.
And my day was complete.
Was it perfect-looking? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, Adam and I joked that many of the pasta pieces were quite "female" looking. My pasta was also more yellow than Amy's was due to the farm-fresh eggs I used with the super-yellow yolks. But, did it taste great? Absolutely! It was just as good as I remembered it being, and I had the added satisfaction of making it myself.
Adam's note: If you like your pasta softer and less al dente, make sure to cook the pasta al dente first, then cover the completed pot for a little while for softer pasta without having it be mushy.
I'm all set for another long and crazy week at work... but at least I have wonderful leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
Have a great Monday!