Orecchiette with Pesto Rosso
Editor's Note: This Orecchiette with Pesto Rosso uses a tomato-based pesto recipe rather than one that requires pine nuts, but this version is actually easier and has a more unique flavor. Orecchiette pasta and savory fish combine to make this one of those easy dinner ideas that's not hard to make, but is still something different than your usual pasta dishes. It has that authentic Italian food taste without making you spend too much time in front of the stove - it cooks up in under an hour!
When I traveled to Pisa, Italy, I spent time with artisanal pasta makers. Watching them reminded me what an art form hand-shaped pasta is. If you can, buy or make fresh hand-shaped orecchiette; the chewy texture of each “little ear” is a special treat.
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date
Recipe CourseMain Course
Taste and TextureGarlicky, Herby, Salty, Savory
Type of DishDry Pasta, Fresh Pasta
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh garlic
- 3 cups chopped tomatoes, drained if canned
- ½ cup chopped marinated fresh anchovies (don’t use canned) or marinated herring
- 1 pound orecchiette, preferably 100 percent semolina
- 8 jumbo raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cut into disks ¼-inch thick
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- Salt, ground pepper, and sugar to taste
In a saucepan over low heat, warm olive oil. Add garlic and cook until just golden, then add tomatoes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook sauce until thick and chunky, about 15 minutes, crushing tomatoes with a wooden spoon or potato ricer. Stir in anchovies or herring and cook, stirring, until fish is cooked through. Cover saucepan and keep over lowest heat while you cook the pasta.
Cook pasta in heavily salted boiling water until done, per manufacturer’s directions. Drain all but about 3 tablespoons of the cooking water from the orecchiette. Add pasta with reserved cooking water and shrimp pieces to the saucepan over low heat. Stir until shrimp are opaque white. Tear by hand the basil leaves or leave them whole, and add to pasta. Stir once more, season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar, and serve.
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