Another summer dish. But maybe it’s summer where you are?
This Puglian classic is brilliant for feeding people in large volumes because you can affordably scale up the ingredients.
It’s the perfect thing for a summer evening in the backyard, served in a large communal bowl, accompanied by rivers of Primitivo.
We initially served it in bowls underneath some grilled Italian pork sausages -inspired by a similar meal James and I had in the Campo di Fiori in Rome.
But we’re not really eating much meat at the moment and it occurs to me now that it really doesn’t need it. In fact, Angela Hartnett referred to this dish as a “salad”. It’s awesome enough to stand on its own.
- 250 grams cherry tomatoes. Halved.
- 400 grams orecchiette. Don’t be tempted to use another pasta. It’s consistency is required to soak up the simple flavours. Cook something else if you can’t find orecchiette.
- Large bunch of basil. Leaves picked. Tear some of the larger leaves into chunks.
- 4 large cloves of garlic. More if you like. Finely chopped.
- 150ml olive oil. Yes, that’s quite lot. It’s what I said about subtle flavours. So use a good Italian one. Preferably fresh.
- 30ml white wine vinegar. Don’t go over the top with this. It’s just a hint you’re after.
- Parmesan to taste. Not strictly traditional so you can leave it off. But I’ve had parmesan ice cream before. I wish I was eating it all the time.
1. Let the tomatoes marinade in a large bowl with the garlic, vinegar and olive oil.
2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and tip in the orecchiette. Say it with me: “as salty as the Mediterranean.” While it’s cooking (8 – 9 minutes) you can grate the parmesan.
3. When the pasta is done, quickly drain it and then tip it into the bowl with the basil and the marinading tomatoes then toss together. That’s the secret to this dish and why it needs to be orecchiette. Because the ‘little ears’ are still warm and squishy they’ll soak up the combined flavours.
4. Tip into a more presentable serving bowl (or individual bowls), top with the parmesan and serve.