Braised vegetable orecchiette

Braised vegetable orecchiette
Braised vegetable orecchiette

As promised, I have returned from my gorgeous holiday in Puglia with more than just a few extra pounds and a sunburnt belly button – believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.
I come bearing gifts and the first one is this utterly delicious braised vegetable orecchiette. I discovered this dish on our last evening in Bari, in a pleasant little restaurant, next to a rather unpleasant fat Australian who moaned about her pasta being ‘too hard’. Philistine.
Anyway, it turned out that most of the vegetarian pasta dishes I had my eye on were unavailable, due to the ingredients being out of season. Eating seasonally is obviously a big part of Italian culture which is nice, but unfortunately for me, this meant that I was left with the rather dubiously named ‘vegetable pasta’. I didn’t want to show my disappointment, so I simply smiled and willed it to be more than just a bowl of vegetables and pasta.

It arrived and it was just a bowl of vegetables and pasta – but it was one of the nicest bowls of vegetables and pasta I had ever eaten. Local orecchiette floating in a salty vegetable broth peppered with seasonal vegetables. Bellissimo!

Braised vegetable orecchiette
Serves 2 / Hands on time 30mins/ Total time 30mins / Mf
25g unsalted butter
300g baby mixed vegetables (I used 1 small courgette, 2 chestnut mushrooms, 3 baby leeks, 4 baby carrots, 2 baby parsnips. Although you can use whatever vegetables you like)
100g orecchiette* or pasta of your choice
500ml vegetable stock (I used 1 Knorr stock pot)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried parsley
Extra virgin olive oil to serve
Small handful of grated parmesan* or vegetarian Italian hard cheese
Salt and pepper

Mf– Meat and fish free
*Orecchiette is a pasta that’s popular in Southern Italy and literally translates to ‘little ears’.
*Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiani) is always made using animal rennet, therefore it is not vegetarian. Substitute for Italian hard cheese if applicable.


Method
1. Chop your vegetables to your desired size – personally I think the bigger the better, especially when braising. In a large heavy bottomed pot with a lid, add the butter and spread the vegetables out as evenly as you can. Cover with roughly 500ml of vegetable stock (you want to make sure the vegetables are only just covered). Season with salt and pepper and add the bay leaves.
2. Bring to the boil on a high heat before turning back down low and covering with a lid. Let the vegetables simmer for 10-12 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, boil your pasta in slightly salted water and grate the parmesan.

4. Remove the lid off the vegetables, stir in a tsp of dried parsley and turn the heat back up and vigorous boil for another 3 minutes. Meanwhile drain your pasta and put to one side.
5. By now your vegetables will be lovely and soft. Take them off the heat and discard the bay leaves. Pour the pasta straight into the pot and stir through carefully – you don’t want to break the vegetables up too much.
6. Divide into bowls and serve with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan.
Braised vegetable orecchiette
Braised vegetable orecchiette

If you’ve had a go at making my orecchiette or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale corrie.heale@gmail.com


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