I made this a few weeks ago and even Max (who doesn’t eat anything but goldfish crackers and string cheese these days) loved it. It’s 8 am and I am craving it.
Orecchiette pasta is kind of sentimental in my family. My grandmother used to make these and call them little hats. I would imagine cute little mice like the ones from Cinderella wearing orecchiette on their heads. I always loved Gus Gus.
The little guy liked to eat too. Orecchiette actually means little ears, but if Nana called them little hats, then that’s what they are. Plus the idea of eating little ears sounds gross.
This recipe was so delicious that I have to share it here.
You can certainly sub in bacon for pancetta and it will be delicious, but pancetta is worth the trip to the deli counter. Just be sure that when you’re prepping it, you cut it into very very small pieces because it’s pretty salty.
- 5 ounces pancetta, diced very small (or bacon if you wish)
- 8 ounces Orecchiette pasta
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
- ½ cup purple onion, diced (about ½ medium onion)
- pinch of red pepper flake (optional)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Put a large pot of water to boil on the stove for the pasta (I do not salt the water in this instance since the pancetta adds saltiness to the dish). Heat a large saute skillet over medium low heat. Spray with a little cooking spray and add the pancetta. Fry pancetta until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain. Pour off any oil but do not wipe out pan.
Add pasta to boiling water and stir. Time the pasta to cook for according to package.
While pasta is cooking, add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the skillet in which you fried the pancetta. Add the onions, mushrooms, chili pepper and black pepper. Add about ¼ cup of water to the pan. Toss everything together well. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mushrooms should be golden and greatly reduced in volume and most of the liquid should be evaporated. Lower heat. Add the thyme and cook over low heat for one more minute. Return pancetta to pan, along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir mixture.
Test pasta to make sure it is done (it should be al dente – don’t overcook it) and remove from pot with a strainer and add to the sauce, letting a little pasta water transfer over with the pasta. I keep a little extra pasta water to the side just in case I need to add more. Turn off heat and add cheese. Mix well. If the pasta is too dry, just add a little more hot pasta water.
Add the fresh parsley and mix well. Add more grated cheese, if you like.
This is the perfect comfort food for a cool autumn night. Enjoy!
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