Sunday, May 4, 2008

Piemonte Night!

About a year and a half ago, I was fortunate enough to make my first trip to Europe. It was heavenly! We went to the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Italy. I really loved each place and, like one's own children, I couldn't tell you which was my favorite!

I have become enamored with Italian food, though. No, not like the freakin' Olive Garden. Phhttt! I mean REAL food like Italian people living in Italy have. Each region has its own specialities based on their location, history, and indigenous creatures/plants that it's just fascinating to me. While we were in Italy, our friends Max and Monica (sorry, teeny pics!) took us on a walking tour of old town Torino. It was fabulous! We had lunch at a cool little sidewalk cafe, and had orecchiette with cream sauce. *swoon*

Last night Hubby was off playing a gig and it was just Sweet Pea and me. I started thinking about this bag of orecchiette that I had in the pantry, and my lunch with our cool Italian friends, and I just couldn't NOT make it! For those who don't know, orecchiette means "little ears" in Italian. That's because the round, dimpled pieces of pasta do resemble little tiny ears! I had to explain to Sweet Pea that we were not actually EATING EARS. Ha! I get myself into so many long explanations sometimes, just trying to tell her interesting little tidbits.

It has a little more stuff in it than my lunch in Torino, which was lovely and mild, but I thought I'd share it because it was pretty awesome (which is always cool when you just throw things together that you *think* might taste good). If I just bastardized it horribly, I'll blame it on my lack of Italian blood. :D Thus, I proudly present....

ScotsIrish-Piemonte Orecchiette with Dreamy Cream Sauce

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 small onion, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2-1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Italian spice mix, dried
Salt & Pepper to taste
Capers, drained
Parmesano-Reggiano, grated

Cook orecchiette according to package directions [mine said to boil 12-15 minutes and I pulled mine off at 12 so it would have that nice al dente feel to it].

Put olive oil into a cold saucepan. Grate onions into pan (or grate and dump in) and add garlic; turn stove onto medium heat and cook until onions and garlic are translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. [Note: Trust me on this - if you add grated onions to a hot pan they just get too close to burning. TOO close.]

Add cream, nutmeg, spices, and salt/pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Let simmer for a couple of minutes so that flavors can meld. Serve over orecchiette. Sprinkle cheese and capers over the top.

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Please note that I'm totally guessing on the amounts I used, here. Unless I'm baking, that's how I cook. You could probably add 1/2 to 1 cup of chicken broth to thin the sauce down, if you wish. Honestly, I didn't think about it and it was wonderful, and it was what I remember the thickness of my Torino orecchiette to be. It would be totally fab if you wanted to add some white wine.....but since my 5-year-old was eating this I opted out on that this time. My meal in Torino had thin slices of ham sprinkled on top, which, now that I think about it I could have sliced up the Canadian bacon that's in the fridge, but honestly, it just now crossed my mind (erk).

We also had a mixed green salad with olive oil and balsamic (yummmm), and I had a savory biscotti that I made -- Parmesan biscotti with Cracked Black Pepper and Herbs. Gah! That was great.

The perfect end to the evening would have been making a cup of Italian hot chocolate (from the recipe I found online after I got back from Italy - so I don't know how authentic it truly is - but I also found another recipe that a girl who is from Milano posted, which I now must try soon). But I stayed on the computer too long last night. :P


chriesi said...

Mmm sounds yummy! I love Orecchiette.

Amy J. said...

Me too! It's one of my favorites! :)~