Orecchiette with feta, spinach, and courgettes

Some time ago  at Restaurant22, I had a rather excellent dish of gnocchi with feta, wilted bitter leaves, and various kind of bean. My suspicion is that copying it would be harder than it sounds, but yesterday I was in the mood for similar flavours.

A quick Google yields a number of extemporizations around the theme of orecchiette with feta. There are recipes that simply add rocket, or spinach, there were those with roasted peppers, and a couple with shrimp or chicken. It seems to be some kind of combinatorial matrix: pick a leaf, pick a main vegetable, pick an optional supporting veg. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what Silver Spoon makes most of Italian cooking feel like.

So I chose courgettes. Because I love them, and I am sceptical of shrimp.
I’d like to come back and try this with griddled chicken, or shredded slow-cooked lamb, much like the Allegra McEvedy tagliatelle recipe with mint and broad beans. That’s delicious, incidentally, if you can put up with the way shelling broad beans makes you feel like a grim caricature of a 1950s housewife.


Ingredients:

  • Orecchiette
  • Courgettes
  • Spinach
  • Feta
  • Garlic
  • A little oregano
(there’s chilli in the picture too. That’s because I have a problem)

Method:

  1. Wash the spinach, and wilt it down. When it’s done, drain it, and press as much of the liquid out as you easily can. Put it to one side.
  2. Slice the courgettes thickly.
  3. Slice the garlic.
  4. Set some water boiling for the pasta.
    Use plenty of salt, of course.
  5. Start frying the courgettes.
    They take fractionally longer to cook than the pasta, so it’s best to start them first. They’ll take a reasonably high heat and plenty of oil, and ideally they’ll be somewhat golden by the time they’re done.
  6. After a couple of minutes, start the pasta cooking.
    It probably takes around ten minutes in total.
  7. When the courgettes are nearly done, add the garlic, along with a sprinkle of oregano.
    It probably doesn’t want to colour much, so you may need to reduce the heat. Continue frying for a couple of minutes.
  8. Roughly shred the spinach, and add it to the courgettes. Stir it all through so everything mingles, and any remaining liquid (there shouldn’t be much) cooks off.
  9. When the pasta is done, drain it and mix it with the spinach, garlic, and courgettes.
  10. Crumble in the feta and work that through too. It should melt a little but not disintegrate entirely. Optionally, you can garnish by crumbling more over the top before service.

 

The spinach makes this look great, but isn’t  a prominent flavour. That’s not a problem, but it’s certainly worth trying one of the variations with something like rocket. Honestly, the feta is the biggest flavour in the mix. If you like that, great, if you want more balance, you can dial it down. I have very little idea how much I used, probably somewhat over 100g for two people, with more to sprinkle. Quantities and specificity aren’t really my thing. The slightly-browned courgettes do stand out a little, and they work. But again, I’d like to try it with something else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.