Italian Recipes

Orecchiette alla Crudaiola

July 6, 2022

I have been in love with the cuisine of Puglia since my first trip to this unique region many, many years ago. We were fortunate to spend two weeks there on a combined bike and food adventure that rekindled my appreciation for Puglian dishes, and upon my return to Umbria I slowly added more Puglian recipes to my blog. I first tried this dish in July 2011 on a trip to Puglia and have made it many times since. When I first enjoyed this pasta we were in Alberobello, home of the trulli or cone houses, and it was so hot we didn’t even think we could have lunch. We stopped at a small restaurant in the old town, and we were served this pasta. Though we thought we had lost our appetite due to the heat, we all devoured this pasta and savored every last bite.

This dish is a simple dish created when ripe garden tomatoes are plentiful on long, hot summer days. The ingredients are few, but for the best results you need to use quality ingredients. The most unique ingredient that makes this dish truly Apulian is the ricotta salata. This is a hard cheese made from the whey portion of sheep’s milk, which is pressed, salted and aged for at least 90 days. It is milky white in color with a firm texture and salty taste. This cheese is great grated on pasta or crumbled on salads.

In Puglia, I only enjoyed this dish with orecchiette pasta, the traditional pasta shape served with this sauce, but you can use any short pasta shape if you like. Just make sure you use fresh, very ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and a quality extra virgin olive oil. The pine nuts are optional, but they add a nice crunchy texture to this dish.

Enjoy your meal!
Deborah Mele 2022

ingredients

  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta

  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) Chopped ripe tomatoes

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • pepper to taste

  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, crushed

  • 4 ounces ricotta salata cheese, grated and divided

instructions

  1. A few hours before dinner, in a small bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, pepper, basil, pine nuts, half the grated ricotta salata, and about 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Stir well, cover and allow the flavors to meld until ready to serve.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then cook the orecchiette al dente according to package directions.
  4. Drain, return the pasta to the pot, then add the sauce.
  5. Toss to mix well.
  6. Serve and offer additional ricotta salata at the table.

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