Orecchiette Pasta with Roasted Squash, Cavolo Nero & Pangratatto
Orecchiette is a pasta shape that hails from the Southern Italian region of Puglia and is perfect for this beautiful pasta dish. Pangratatto is effectively just fried breadcrumbs but it's a great addition to this dish as it adds a brilliant texture. There are lots of different squashes now widely available from good green grocers. We got ours from a fantastic local organisation called Root Connections www.rootconnections.co.uk - a charity that helps homeless people. They have a small farm where volunteers and residents grow fabulous produce to supply homes and restaurants with the fruits of their labour, check it out, it's amazing.
I will reluctantly admit that anchovies aren't everyone's cup of tea, however, in this dish, they are there to provide the perfect seasoning to the vegetables and they work brilliantly. If you're not a lover, give this a try, you'll be surprised at how well they bring all the flavours together.
Pre heat your oven to 220 degrees C. Start by making the pangratatto, blitz the breadcrumbs in a food processor and gently fry them in the garlic oil until they are crispy and slightly golden. Tip them into a bowl and leave them to cool.
Now peel and chop your squash into a rough 1 inch dice. Drizzle over some oil, a little salt and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. It's also a good time to get a pan of water on to cook the pasta. It's important to use a big pan with plenty of well salted water.
Meanwhile, gently warm a generous 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the sliced chillies, garlic and chopped anchovies. Cook them on a low heat so that the anchovies melt, but make sure you don't burn the garlic.
Throw the pasta into the boiling water, give it a stir and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times.
Now shred up the cavolo nero and add it to the pan with the chilli, garlic and anchovies. Toss the cabbage through all the beautifully flavoured oil and keep gently cooking for about a minute. To make sure the cabbage softens, add a small ladle of the pasta cooking water to the pan - it will generate a little steam, perfectly cooking the greens. Once it has the perfect bite, you can turn the heat down and just keep everything warm.
Check on the squash in the oven, it should now be soft and with little charred edges. Remove it and add it to your cavolo nero, gently mix it through.
Once the pasta has cooked, drain and add it to your pan, mix it all through and serve it onto your plates. Drizzle each plate with some extra virgin olive oil, grate a little pecorino over and sprinkle with the pangratatto.
I absolutely love this kind of dish, it's really simple but the flavours complement each other so well. Enjoy.
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