Orecchiette – Italian for “little ears” – are basically tiny edible pasta bowls, which make them perfect for gathering thick sauce, and even better for picking up meat.
That’s why orecchiette is the perfect vessel for this lamb, broccolini and pecorino pasta – each forkful you pick up will be filled with plenty of cheese-topped, savory ground lamb and tender greens.
Best of all, this recipe – courtesy of The Food Channel – is way healthier than it tastes and way simpler than it looks. Just don’t tell your dinner guests that.
- 1 1/4 lbs ground lamb
- 6 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- 1 bunch (about 12 ounces) broccolini, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 In a large pot, bring water to a boil and season with 1 tablespoon salt. Add pasta and cook until almost tender, but still a little underdone, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.
- 2 Add broccolini and cook 3 minutes more until pasta is al dente and broccolini is bright green and crisp-tender. Drain and reserve about 1/2 cup of cooking water.
- 3 In a Dutch oven or other large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add lamb, breaking it up into small chunks. Cook, stirring occasionally until lamb is deeply browned and a little crispy, about 10 minutes.
- 4 Stir in garlic and pepper (to taste); add 1 teaspoon salt and cook about 1 minute longer.
- 5 Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in pasta and broccolini. Add reserved cooking water and continue cooking about 1 to 2 minutes more, allowing pasta to absorb flavors.
- 6 Sprinkle in about 1/2 cup cheese; stir to combine well.
- 7 Serve pasta in warm bowls with remaining 1/4 cup cheese sprinkled over the top of the salad. Serve immediately with pita or crusty bread.