Toasted Wheat Orecchiette with Edible Flowers and Ricotta

ore 1 Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

The rich, smoky color of the Farina Arsa Orecchiette is enough to catch the eye, but this toasty, nutty, earthy pasta also comes with a history. According to our friends at Ritrovo Selections, farina arsa,  or toasted wheat flour pasta comes from a little-known Pugliese tradition from the times when local nobles allowed local peasants to glean from fields after the wheat harvest.

Because the fields had already been burned, gleaners were forced to use the blackened grains to make their pasta, which became incorporated into traditional dishes. Turns out that the burnt grains produce a desirable toasty-nutty flavor and combines beautifully with vegetable condiments such as zucchini flowers and fresh peas, golden squash, white fish flakes, and other contrasting colored foods.

This simple recipe can be made with any combination of green summer vegetables, such as peas, asparagus, sugar snap peas, zucchini flowers.  Fresh ricotta is best and whatever you do, do not skimp on the edible flower petals and good olive oil in this.   I thought it tasted wonderful as a cold dish and it is definitely a summer picnic hit.

Ingredients

1 lb Orecchiette Farina Arsa (toasted wheat orecchiette)

1 lb summer green vegetables (I used sugar snap peas)

½ cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

sea salt

a few generous pinches of tutti fiori (edible flower petals)  to taste

Mint (cut into slivers)

Quality olive oil

Maletti 6 year aged balsamic vinegar (or similarly aged balsamic)

Juice of one lemon

Preparation

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. While waiting, string sugar snaps and cut into 1/2-inch segments. Cook pasta for two minutes less than the suggested cooking time on the package, then add sugar snaps to pasta. Cook for one minute more.

Reserve one cup pasta cooking water, then drain sugar snaps and orecchiette. Add them back to the empty pot with 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, grated cheese, a glug of olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook on high for one minute, tossing constantly. Add a splash more cooking water if pasta looks too dry.

Turn heat off, dollop ricotta all over in large spoonfuls and, without stirring, tip pasta mixture into a wide serving bowl. Drizzle pasta with olive oil and balsamic and add tutti fiori to taste.  Squeeze lemon juice over the whole dish, sprinkle with mint, and finish with an extra sprinkling of parmesan.  Enjoy!

ore 2 Recipe by Jana Shih