Sun Dried Tomato + Chili Orecchiette

Sun Dried Tomato and Chili Orecchiette | Fig + Honey

Just made one of my favorite pasta dishes for Lark & Linen and will be posting every now and then over on her beautiful site giving my recommendation for quick weeknight dinners! Here’s my first one – enjoy!

Pasta in one form or another tends to make its way often into our dinner rotation. After a long week, I crave its comforting powers and the overload of carbs! It’s not often that I repeat recipes over long periods of time, but this one seems to keep making its way back into the kitchen.

Sun Dried Tomato and Chili Orecchiette | Fig + Honey

One of my good friends was so kind to teach me this recipe from his hometown in the south of Italy. It’s a typical thrifty meal that was invented in the times of the war, making do with the little ingredients that were on hand at the time. The good thing with little ingredients is that this pasta dish is so quick and easy to whip up and has a surprising amount of flavor.

When there’s time, I love to make my own Orecchiette but in a pinch, either store bought fresh or dried will work perfectly fine. I prefer the sun dried tomatoes that are dried and preserved in salt rather than oil. Change up your weekday routine and give this pasta try!

Sun Dried Tomato and Chili Orecchiette | Fig + Honey

Sun Dried Tomato and Chili Orecchiette

  • 8 oz fresh or dried orecchiette
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red chilies
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 cups day old bread crumbled*
  • handful of basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  When ready cook the orecchiette according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on medium high. When shimmering, add the crushed red chilis and let cook for 30 seconds making sure not to let them burn. Add in the sliced sun dried tomatoes and cook for another minute stirring often. Then add in the bread crumbs and stir to coat. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes until a bit crispy. Add in the cooked orecchiette and a couple tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes until everything is well coated and starting to get crispy. Toss with basil and serve immediately. Serves 2.

*I like to use a day old white bread loaf, the kind from the bakery not sliced bread. Cut off the crusts and just rub the bread between your fingertips to get large chunks of bread. Don’t worry about it being fine – the chunkiness adds texture!

Sun Dried Tomato and Chili Orecchiette | Fig + Honey

If you haven’t already, check out the beautiful Lark and Linen and some of my favorite weeknight meals on the blog!

Spring Asparagus & Roasted Hazelnut Tagliatelle

Spring Asparagus & Roasted Hazelnut Tagliatelle | Fig & Honey

Here in Germany, people go crazy over asparagus or Spargel as they call it. When spring hits, it’s just about everywhere you look – on every restaurant menu, in every supermarket and even little street vendors are selling it by the bag full. Mostly it’s the white variety, which I have to admit had never seen before, but you can also find green asparagus about too. Unlike elsewhere in the world, once asparagus season is done with here, there is no more asparagus to be had. So in the spring, I make the most of it while it lasts!

Spring Asparagus & Roasted Hazelnut Tagliatelle | Fig & Honey
Spring Asparagus & Roasted Hazelnut Tagliatelle | Fig & Honey

One of the best ways to use asparagus is in pasta as the fresh taste really compliments noodles of all sorts. I’ve also added roasted hazelnuts to give some crunch and depth. I’ve always thought that hazelnuts were only associated with sweet things, but after our last trip to Italy I’ve been loving them in savory dishes too. The Piemonte region of Italy is known for their hazelnuts. It’s actually the home of Ferrero and the famous Nutella and Ferrero Rochers. But it is also home to many savory dishes with this little nut. Roasting them really brings out the flavor which pairs well with lemon and the asparagus.

Make sure you give this a try while the asparagus is still in season.  The whole meal is so quick to whip up and lovely and light. Easy enough for a weekday dinner when you just want to be outside enjoying the beautiful sun!

Spring Asparagus & Roasted Hazelnut Tagliatelle | Fig & Honey

Spring Asparagus & Roasted Hazelnut Tagliatelle

serves 2

  • about 150g green asparagus, cut on a strong diagonal
  • 300g dry tagliatelle
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lightly roasted hazelnuts, halved
  • zest of one lemon
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Once ready, blanch the asparagus for about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cold bath.

Bring the water back to the boil and add the tagliatelle. Cook according to the package directions.

Once the tagliatelle is almost done cooking, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the hazelnuts and drained asparagus and cook till warmed through. With a set of tongs, remove the tagliatelle from the stock pot and into the saucepan. It’s ok if a little water gets in, it will help with the sauce. Add in the lemon zest, parsley and parmigiano reggiano and toss to coat. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Garnish with some fresh parsley if desired.

Toasted Pappardelle with Mushroom Ragu

Toasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & HoneyGrowing up I used to think that pasta was largely a sauce filled affair.  The sauce was always heavy on the list of ingredients and almost a meal in itself.  The pasta just served as a vehicle to get it into your mouth and the shapes never made much of a difference, they all seemed to taste the same anyway.  Only until later in life did I realize that I had it all wrong.

Over the past two years I’ve spent quite a lot of time traveling all over Italy and being more and more amazed by the food.  There are two things that I cannot resist – a hearty bowl of pasta and a wood fired pizza.  Both of which are done best in this country in Europe’s south.  I did learn quickly that my idea of Italian food did not do the real thing any justice.  Very much how Indian food and Chinese food in the west are inventions loosely based on the real thing.  Yes, similar ingredients are used, but somehow they never quite come together in the same way.Toasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & HoneyToasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & HoneyPasta was one of these revelations. I quickly learned that less is more in the way of pasta.  Often a 3 ingredient sauce packs so much flavor that I have no idea why any more ingredients would at all be necessary. The shapes of pasta are very much suited to specific sauces and they always seem to compliment each other perfectly.  One of my favorites has to be pappardelle.  Especially fresh pappardelle!  I love the wide noodles and how they soak up just enough sauce in every bite.  I think that they’re always suited best to ragu of some sort. Wild boar, lamb or mushrooms are always a good choice in my mind.

For this recipe, I wanted to change things up just a slight bit.  Instead of creating the pasta dough as usual, I toasted a small portion of the flour beforehand and incorporated that into the final dough.  The result was a lightly nutty flavor which really compliments the mushrooms. As for the mushrooms, I mixed and matched whatever I could find.  A few cremini, shiitake, portobello and white mushrooms were what I had on hand that day, however, when they are in season, chanterelles would be lovely too.

Toasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & Honey

Toasted Pappardelle with Mushroom Ragu

Serves 4

Pappardelle

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 6 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mushroom Ragu

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 16 oz mixed mushrooms (cremini portobello, white button, shiitake), quartered/ cut to similar sizes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • large pinch red chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Get started with the pappardelle first.  Heat the oven to 375°F/ 190°C. In a large bowl, sift together the all purpose flour and semolina flour.  Take 1 cup of the flour mixture and evenly distribute onto a baking sheet. Place into the oven and roast for about 20 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool completely and then mix together with the remainder of the combined flour mixture.

Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, salt and olive oil.  Using a fork to start, whisk the eggs and gradually combine the wet and dry ingredients – changing to a spoon or your hands as the mixture gets thicker.  Once combined, remove from the bowl on to a clean, flat surface and knead until smooth and elastic. About 4-5 minutes.

Cut the dough into 6 even sections and place back into a covered bowl until ready to use.  The dough at this point can be rolled and shaped, refrigerated for a couple days or frozen for a couple months.  Using a pasta roller, roll out the dough into long sheets. The dough should be thin enough to see your fingers through. Usually the second to last setting will get you this result.  Don’t be afraid to use lots of semolina flour so things don’t stick.  Cut into 3/4 inch / 2 cm wide sections and dust generously with semolina flour and place on a covered baking sheet.  Continue the process with the rest of the dough and cover until ready to eat.  At this point, the pasta can be refrigerated or frozen to be used at a later time*.

For the mushroom ragu, heat a wide sauté pan to high heat and add the olive oil.  Add in the onions and sauté until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for a further 6-8 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are lightly browned.  Add in the chili flakes, thyme, garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Next, add the vegetable stock and turn down the heat to medium.  Simmer until the liquid has reduced by over half.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the ragu is cooking, heat a large pot full of water to boiling.  Add a few generous pinches of salt.  Cook the pappardelle till al dente in batches making sure there is plenty of water for the pasta to move around in.  Immediately toss with the pasta and eat while hot.  Garnish with parmesan or a few sprigs of thyme.

*this recipe makes more pappardelle than you will need.  Freeze the rest for next time or refrigerate for another day. It tastes great as leftovers or a quick meal when you have little time!

Toasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & Honey