June 22, 2010

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Chickpeas

Mmm crispy pancetta

I do not like broccoli rabe. I keep trying it and keep thinking the next time will be different, but it is so bitter, I cannot eat it. And unfortunately for this dish, its bitterness seeped into the chickpeas, so every bite tasted bitter. Yuck. The crispy, salty pancetta was the only redeeming quality this dish offered. 

This recipe came out of a new cookbook I recently bought called, Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera. I am a sucker for cookbooks with lots of photos and this one doesn't disappoint. There are a bunch of dishes in the book that I want to try, and we tried this unfortunate dish first because Marshal Mike saw its picture on the cover and requested it. So if you like bitter, give this recipe a try! We will not be making it again!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Chickpeas
Adapted from Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera
Serves 4

5 oz pancetta, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough stems removed and remainder chopped into 2-3 inch pieces
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (this book makes you feel like a slacker and horrible person for using canned beans, but if I had put in the effort of soaking and cooking dried beans and the result was this bad, I would have been even more disappointed and upset than I was last night)
1 cup vegetable stock or water
3/4 pound orecchiette
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add pancetta and cook until browned and crispy (8-10 minutes). Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. 
2. Lower heat slightly and add garlic to remaining oil. Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute - do not let it burn!) Add broccoli rabe to skillet and cook until wilted. Add drained chickpeas and stock/water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. 
4. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and add to skillet.
5. Toss to combine and add some pasta water if it is too dry. 
6. Transfer to dishes (or large serving bowl) and top with pancetta. (We also threw on some parmesan after I took the above photo.)

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