Simplicity resides at the core of Italian cuisine - Indeed, rather than relying on elaborate preparation and an extensive list of ingredients, Italian food emphasises a small number of ingredients. Each, however, should be of exceptional quality, for there is no place to hide.
This dish is one such example - the particular geographical qualities of Puglia render exquisite tomatoes - the sun-drenched earth, tempered by the cooling coastal breeze, makes the region a veritable haven for plants and produce. The bright tomatoes that serve as the base of this light yet rugged sauce are blended with fresh basil and fragrant garlic, and slowly simmered until thick and glossy, rendering a sauce with substance and exquisite flavour, despite its rustic simplicity.
The deft hands of Pugliese nonnas shape the iconic orecchiette pasta that pairs with this dish. A pasta bianca staple, the dough for this pasta consists of just flour and water - the rich egg pasta that is enjoyed in the north of Italy is far less common in the sundrenched south, where a lighter pasta dough is favoured by the natives. The term orecchiette translates to ‘little ears’, a nod to the unique shape of this pasta. While commonplace on the streets of Bari, this pasta shape is loved nationwide, and is the perfect accompaniment to this rustic pomodoro.
Our Recipe for Pugliese Orecchiette with Tomato and Basil Sauce
Prep time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Calories per serving: 405kcal
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1 kg cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
- 5-6 basil leaves, washed and chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 400g fresh orecchiette pasta - for ingredients, see this simple recipe
- Prepare your fresh orecchiette, using our easy guide.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Add crushed garlic cloves and brown until the oil is fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and fry for another five minutes or so. Once the tomatoes have softened slightly, lightly crush the mixture, until it resembles a chunky sauce.
- Cover and simmer on a low to medium heat for around 40 minutes, until reduced. The sauce should be thick and shiny.
- Mix in the chopped basil and remove from the heat.
- Place a pan of generously salted water over a high heat. Once boiling, add your orecchiette, and cook for around 2 minutes. Strain the pasta and transfer to the tomato sauce, tossing the mixture until well combined. If needed, you can always loosen your sauce with a tablespoon or so of the starchy pasta water.
- Once combined, plate, top with a few shreds of fresh basil and serve. Buon appetito.
What better way to complete this homage to sunny Puglia, than with a punchy yet refreshing Martini cocktail? Our head chef - and Pugliese native - Roberta loves this cocktail (which she lovingly refers to as the ‘la vita è bella’) while soaking up the sun on a beach in her home region. For more ways to bring Puglia to your home this summer, be sure to stop by our ‘Visit Puglia’ page, or order from our limited edition Pugliese menu, available from the 29th June - 5th July.
Will you be joining us on our trip to Puglia? Be sure to share your holiday-at-home snaps on social media using #PastaEvangelists #ItalyatHome.
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