You would never guess there are anchovies in this sauce, but without them it would not have the same depth of flavor. Orecchiette, which means "little ears" in Italian, are a specialty of Apulia, where it is still possible to find women making and selling them on the street. Orecchiette are a flour-and-water pasta and you can buy them dried. The classic sauce they are paired with is made with broccoletti, a vegetable similar to broccoli rabe, and I have a recipe for it in my book How to Cook Italian. This version with regular broccoli is a bit milder and sweeter.
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1 pound broccoli florets
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 1 pound orecchiette
1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
2. Fill a pot that will hold the broccoli florets with water and place over high heat.
3. Peel the garlic and finely chop it. Finely chop the anchovies.
4. When the water for the broccoli is boiling, add 1 teaspoon salt and add the broccoli. Cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and coarsely chop the broccoli.
5. Put the anchovies and the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat. Once the anchovies have dissolved, add the garlic and hot red pepper flakes. After the garlic begins to sizzle, add the broccoli, season with salt, and sauté over medium heat for about 8 minutes.
6. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the orecchiette, and stir well. Cook until al dente.
7. When the pasta is almost ready, stir ¼ cup of the pasta water into the broccoli. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce, and serve at once.