Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasThe first time we used pasta Orecchiette was around 2009. We had seen a recipe in a food magazine using the pasta, so to the store we went. We had a hard time finding it, but our local co-op (sell’s all natural – organic foods) had the pasta. When we described the pasta (as we had forgotten the name) the sales lady new right away what we wanted. She referred to the pasta as little pope hats. Ever since Orechiette has become a staple in our pantry.

About.com talks on Italian food and describes Orechiette as a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, as orecchio in Italian means eat, and Orecchiette means little ears. The pasta is roughly 3/4 of an inch across, slightly domed, and the centers are thinner than the rim of the pasta. The pastas texture is soft in the middle and more chewy along the rim or outside of the pasta.

Barilla (store brand that sells Italian products) says that Orecchiette is the signature pasta of Puglia, describing Puglia as a humble farming land situated along the southeastern coast of Italy.

Here is a video posted to You-Tube of Italian women in Italy making fresh Orechiette pasta.
Now for our featured recipe: Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas, and here is what you will need.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small shallots, chopped

3/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed

12 ounces Orecchiette

Garnishes:

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley

Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest

cooking Mexican chorizoHeat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute, stirring often, until beginning to brown and smell fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo to pan and break up with a spoon, and cook meat until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

adding chickpeas to meat sauceNext add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to meat mixture and mix in. Next add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened a bit, about 15-20 minutes. Next add the can of chickpeas, and mix in, cooking 2 minutes more to heat the chickpeas through.

adding orechiette to meat sauceMeanwhile, cook pasta according to packaged instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Next add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to meat sauce. Continue to cook until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta liquid as needed. You might use the whole cup, and possibly less.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas in the panServe pasta topped with cilantro or parsley (your choice), Parmesan, and lemon zest.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasWe have had this for left overs a few times, and each time we add cilantro, cheese, and lemon zest. The zest adds great flavor to this dish. Be sure to use it.

For the side salad using candy cane beets, see our recipe here: Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.

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Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll Ups

Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll UpsWith little more than your favorite spaghetti sauce (we used a sauce made with cream and vodka – from the Whole Foods Market), cream cheese and a shredded Italian cheese blend, you can have yourself some chicken roll-ups. They are super easy to prepare.

Here is what you will need:

2 oz. of cream cheese softened

¼ cup bell pepper; diced (red, yellow, orange, green, use all colors, or your choice – we buy tri-colored frozen bell peppers)

¼ tsp. garlic powder

4 chicken breasts; boneless skinless

1 cup Italian 5-cheese blend, finely shredded

½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 cup spaghetti sauce (your favorite)

salt to taste, optional

Heat oven to 400°

ingredients for Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll Ups

 

mix ingredients  togetherIn a medium bowl mix cream cheese, ½ cup of cheese, bell pepper, oregano, garlic and salt to taste.

When we salt in our recipes, it is always use Himalayan salt.

After you mix up the ingredients, set aside.

slicing chicken breast and flatting it with a robber mallet

Cut chicken long ways across breast. Place each cut chicken piece one at a time in a large plastic bag, seal it and with a rubber mallet or rolling pin flatten chicken to ¼-inch thicknesses.

preparing chicken roll ups

At one end of chicken strip roll up with cheese mixture, tucking in ends around filling to completely enclose the filling.

Place seam sides down in 13 x 19 inch baking dish coated with olive oil. Pour spaghetti sauce evenly over chicken, and cover with aluminum foil.

chicken roll ups out of the ovenPlace in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Remove foil, sprinkle chicken with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese. Bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

 

 

 

Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll UpsPlate and enjoy your Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll Ups with a salad or your favorite vegetable.

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