Saturday, March 6, 2010

Orecchiette with Shrimp and Broccoli di Rape

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my aunts, uncles and cousins in Italy. Its been almost three years since I've been there to see them, and even though we can connect through Facebook and Skype, there is nothing like being there in person to sit around a big lunch table, talk, laugh and eat loads of homemade food.
Obviously I love going back to see them, but I also love going back to eat, and my aunts all know exactly what I crave and find a way to make my favorite dishes. My Zia Anna always makes her Crostata di Ricotta, with her homemade ricotta cheese that is like no other I've ever tasted. Zia Guiseppina make her panzarotti, which, when we were kids, we'd fight over. Zia Lena makes spectacular pastas with the wild mushrooms that my Zio Vincenzo collects on his morning walks through the woods, and finally, Zia Maria, my Godmother, makes her Orecchiette.

Zia Maria is a specialized pasta maker. I've seen her work and she's methodical but has that certain rhythm that can only be seen when one is really enjoying her work. She sets out her wooden board, coated with years of flour, on the counter near her window. There she works, always taking time to chatter with neighbors as they pass, watch her grandchildren play in the street outside, and wave her husband in from the cold. She does this almost every day, and it is comforting to think that even now as I write this post, she is probably at her window, rolling out dough and shaping the "little ears" with her thumb.
I rarely make my own pasta. I love doing it, but most days there is not enough time, so we have to be content with dried pasta from the grocery store. Luckily, with the right sauce, the pasta still has the ability to transport me to the streets of Salandra, where I am walking outside of my Aunt's window, waving to her as she works.

Orecchiette with Shrimp and Broccoli di Rape
Serves 4
3/4 pound of orecchiette
1 pound of Broccoli di Rape
1 pound shrimp ( peeled and cleaned)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring 3 quarts of salted water to boil. Add Orecchiette and cook according to package directions.
2. Cut Broccoli di Rape into small pieces and blanch in boiling salted water for 5 minutes ( this will remove all the bitterness)
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. When the garlic beings to brown, add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink. Add the white wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the blanched broccoli di rape, salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer together for another 3 minutes.
4. Drain the pasta and add to the saucepan. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce. Top with the lemon zest. Serve hot.


  1. complimenti è ottimo il tuo piatto!!! ^_^ brava

  2. Sausage and broccoli di rape is one of my favorite go to meals. I will try it with shrimp - it looks fantastic! Oh, and can I be adopted by your family??

  3. I always do with this with sausage - I have been missing out on all that shrimp. I will get out of comfy zone and do this scrumptious dish.

  4. I love this dish and yours looks delicious!

  5. That is one fantastic looking meal.

  6. ciao Antonietta... se hai un momento passa da me a ritirare dei premi per te... tanto siamo vicine di casa!! ^_^

  7. Antonietta: this makes me sad! I wish you could visit your wonderful family... it sounds truly magnificent---a place and time and people where time does what it should: it stops. I too wish I made my own pasta, but never carve out the time to do so. No doubt we are years behind Zia Maria;) but we should start finding our rhythm!!! We must!!! A pact?