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DigiBites: And Now, It’s Time For A Little Italian…

The Epicurean Exchange

We prepared this very authentic Pugliese dish during a recent tour of Puglia in the village of Andria, where the popular buratta cheese originates (see video, below). This dish combines a variety of essential core Pugliese ingredients: orecchiette pasta, bitter greens, called chicory in Puglia, but are not typically available in our area, so I substitute dandelion greens, radicchio or chopped broccoli rabe (rapini), and creamy buratta cheese.

Puglia, Italy Culinary Tour: Our June 2018 tour is full. Our next available tour is scheduled for May 12 – 19, 2019.  Link to the website and itinerary:  www.epicureanexchange.com/puglia-2019.html

Chef Charlie/Orinda, Calif.

Orecchiette Pasta with Chicory, Plum Tomatoes, and Buratta

  • 2 cups dried orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups mixed chicory (endive, radicchio, dandelion greens), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 – 15 ounce can whole, peeled Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, and juice reserved
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 4 ounces fresh buratta cheese

  Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir vigorously to separate the “ears”, and cook (stirring occasionally) until al dente.  Drain, transfer to a sheetpan, coat lightly with olive oil, and set side.

  In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the chicory leaves and sauté, turning frequently with a pair of tongs.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chopped tomatoes (with juice), and sauté, turning frequently, for 3 – 4 minutes.

  Add the cooked orecchiette and Parmesan cheese and cook until warmed through, 2 – 3  minutes.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.  Add the red wine vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes more.

  Serve the pasta topped with fresh buratta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil

Serves 4

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  1. this looks great and I’ll have to lean on the real chef in the house to make it but I can’t watch the vid without thinking of Furio Giunta!

  2. I can smell it. I think I have most of what we’ll need so we’ll put it together and let you know!

  3. @Tony – Sopranos fan, eh? Remember that scene too. Great character. They had the best food in that show.

  4. Office trying to figure out where to go for lunch today and I suggested Italian. Purely subliminal I’m sure.

  5. Question please Chef (I just can’t shake the kitchen scenes from Burnt): Where are you on the use of olive oil when cooking ones pasta? I was always taught a pinch of salt in a bubbling pot is fine but since arriving in California I have found cooks here splash eevo on just about anything, including the pasta pot. Great fun watching that video, by the way, I used to remember the name the Italians used for their specialist cheese makers but I reckon I’ve been here too long now! (Great looking food!)

  6. Great to see a recipe for a tasty vegetarian dish. Hope there will be more. Enjoying these columns very much. Makes you want to seriously get into cooking.

  7. Where do you source your fresh vegetables? You may have said once so I’ll backread the earlier posts but I’m interested. Cook with them a lot.

  8. @Sandy – Thanks for the question. Believe we’ve discussed seafood, but not yet the vegetables. This is another subject that draws a lot of opinions due to the fact we have SO many options. In the end, I encourage sourcing quality, local, wholesome (organic or sustainably sourced). Farmers markets are great, but may be limited on variety; and not conveniently “open”. For everyday, I personally shop Whole Foods for core variety and seasonal specialties. Consistent items, organic and sustainability-sourced conventional produce. We all have a “better” market in our midst: Diablo, Lunardis, etc. Best of the best: it’s Berkeley: Berkeley Bowl, Monterey Market and Market Hall Rockrige. Most important, locally-sourced and seasonal! I had my first organic California asparagus this week; hadn’t eaten it since last fall! Worth waiting for! AND, choose only ORGANIC strawberries, they are the “dirtiest” when conventional grown with high levels of pesticide residues! Hope this helps! – Chef Charlie

  9. @Sarah – Glad you like the postings; I’ll keep them coming! I think cooking is a great hobby, and unlike other interests, after you finish you have something to eat! Practice, practice. – Chef Charlie

  10. @Robert – Re olive oil in pasta water: 2 reasons you might (1) keeps the water from boiling over and (2) to keep pasta from sticking together. Truth: neither. You are right; just salt! The water never really boils over and the oil keeps sauce from sticking to the pasta. After cooking, use butter to keep from sticking together. Save the olive oil for after the pasta is cooked! – Chef Charlie

  11. We’re following…. I can barely open a can of Chef Boy Ar Dee but the wife is trying to get me to try new things.

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