• Nicoletta Fornaro

Comfort food: orecchiette with a tomato, ricotta, parmesan, anchovy and basil sauce

Today I'm going to make something as easy and comforting as pasta, this time orecchiette with a quick and easy to prepare tomato sauce and a couple of add-ins such as ricotta, parmesan, chopped basil and one big fat Cantabrian anchovy.

Orecchiette are a typical type of pasta made only with durum wheat, water and a little bit of salt from the region Puglia in southern Italy. Their name can be literally translated as small ears and, besides the particular shape, I particularly like their soft yet firm texture. Although the traditional recipe is with cime di rapa (turnip tops), I'm going to accompany them with an easy and a bit cheeky tomato sauce instead.

Having switched on the weekend mood and feeling lazy, I will immediately admit that I skipped the peeling-of-tomato step and simply sifted the sauce once ready and before adding the other ingredients.

If you have a bit more time, the best and most used technique for peeling tomatoes is to bring some water to boil, add the tomatoes, let cook for about 1 and a half minutes, then remove, put in a bowl with some ice and peel when cold enough to handle. Stick to this method if you decide to use bigger tomatoes with a ticker skin, while if like me you choose the datterini variety, which has fewer seeds and more pulp, just sifting the sauce won't be a problem.

Datterini means "little dates", in fact they have a pleasantly sweet flavour that will be enhanced by the more salty ingredients and the fresh basil. In case you want to make a lot of sauce, in order to preserve the sauce: sterilise your containers, so leave the jars in boiling water for about 20 minutes, add the sauce, seal and boil for another ten minutes. Once cooled, store in a cool place with no direct sunlight.




200 gr orecchiette

400 gr datterino tomatoes, red and yellow

50 gr fresh ricotta

20/30 gr grated parmesan

1 Cantabrian anchovy

1 garlic clove

2 ts sea salt


extra virgin olive oil


1) Fill a pot with some cold water and bring to a boil. Add 2 tea spoons of sea salt, pour the pasta and let cook for the time indicated on the pack (usually about 15/17 minutes).

2) In the meantime, rinse and slice the tomatoes in four lengthwise, heat a pan, add some oil and a crushed clove of garlic and, finally the tomatoes. Stir, then lower the heat and cover almost entirely. Let cook for about ten minutes. When ready, move to a bowl, add some chopped basil and blend with a hand blender, then use a sifter to remove possible skins and finally combine with the anchovy, a little bit of parmesan and the ricotta and mix roughly.

3) When the pasta is ready, keep some cooking water apart, drain the pasta then toss it in a heated pan with a little bit of cooking water and the sauce at high heat.

4) Serve hot and garnish with extra parmesan and some black pepper.

Buon appetito!


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