Spring Orecchiette with Rosemary, Andouille, and Chickpeas
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
½ lb Orecchiette
¾ cup Chickpea “Pancetta” (see recipe here)
½ tsp red chili flakes (the fresher the better)
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
8 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 ¼ cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ lb andouille, sliced into rings (this should be about 1 link)
½ fennel bulb, sliced thin
½ cup olive oil
1 cup pasta water (you’ll make this along the way)
Black pepper, freshly ground
Salt, to taste
Maldon salt, to finish
Notes before you begin
Generously salt the pasta water. It should have the same salinity as the ocean. Remember, only a little of this will actually get into the pasta itself and will exponentially bring out the flavor.
This is a very simple recipe that comes together pretty quickly. Make sure you have all of the ingredients ready to go before you begin!
The Chickpea “Pancetta” can be made a day early. This can both cut down on the time this dish takes to make and intensify the flavor of the chickpeas. See the recipe here!
In this dish we’ll be using Grana Padano. This is a hard cheese from the Po River region in northern Italy. It’s a lot like parmesan, except aged for less time and a little creamier tasting. This creaminess plays really well with the bright lemon and rosemary. If you can’t find this, using Parmigiano Reggiano is fine.
Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta. Make sure the water continues at a rolling boil — basically, keep it on high heat or whatever heat keeps a lot of large bubbles in the pot. The pasta brings down the temperature of the water slightly and we want the water to continue boiling the whole time. However long the box says to cook the pasta, subtract two minutes and, once it has cooked for that long, start tasting a piece every twenty seconds. The pasta should be al dente (a little chewy) but you should still cook it to your taste. Right before straining the pasta, take a pyrex measuring cup or a mug and set aside a 1 cup of starchy, salty, perfect pasta water. This is very important! The starch in the pasta water will be key later on.
Place a pan over medium-high heat and pour in ¼ cup of olive oil, distributing evenly. Once it is shimmering, add in the andouille, making sure every piece gets nicely browned on both sides. Once done, remove from the pan, making sure to leave the oil in the pan. The andouille makes it smoky and delicious.
Toss in the garlic, cooking it until it gets fragrant (30–45 seconds), then add the fennel and chickpeas. Remember, we don’t want to burn the garlic because it will get bitter. Cook until the fennel begins to become soft and the chickpeas darken a little (2–3 minutes).
Turn the heat down to medium, in the andouille, red pepper, and rosemary. Make sure the red pepper is coated in oil in the pan! This will ensure it releases its spicy oils and gives the dish some heat. At this point, start pouring in the pasta water little by little until the sauce is at your desired thickness, mixing the starchy water with the oil in the pan. If you would like a thinner sauce, add more liquid. A thicker sauce, less liquid. Then, add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Stir to combine.
Turn off the heat, throw in the pasta, and mix everything together. Once every piece of pasta is covered in the sauce (about 3 minutes of stirring), shave or grate Grana Padano over the top, add Maldon salt to taste, and grind in some fresh black pepper. Enjoy!