Orecchiette in a creamy mushroom & pesto sauce

20081118 PestoPastaTitleWeb 

Short and sweet tonight, I'm afraid!

It's been a long week, I have a houseguest coming over tomorrow night, and at some point I would dearly love to fit in more than the 5 hours sleep per night I've been getting since the start of November and NaBloPoMo…

Orecchiette is a pasta shape native to the Apulia region in south-eastern Italy.  The name literally means "little ear" and they are so named because the little domed discs are thought to resemble ears. Traditionally, they are made using only hard wheat flour, water and salt, and each disc is shaped by hand, with the thumb giving it the distinctive indentation.  Apart from looking adorable, the indentation serves as a useful pasta sauce reservoir - what will those clever Italians think of next?!

20071117 - AutumnPastaTrioE

This bag of La Puglia in Tavola orecchiette tricolore came back with us from our Italian trip in March.  The orange and green pieces were flavoured with (I think) tomatoes and spinach, but as with most flavoured pasta, once boiled they didn't taste much different to the white pieces.  Still, you can't argue that they weren't beautiful!

To go with them, I made one of the quickest pasta sauces in my repertoire – perfect in every sense of the word for Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights event, hosted this week by the lovely Nilmandra from Soy and Pepper.  And quick or not, I can't conceive of a universe where mushrooms, pesto and cream would not equal heaven in a bowl :)


Ingredients:20081118 PestoPasta2Web

enough orecchiette or other pasta for 2, cooked according to package instructions
3 large-ish shallots, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
olive oil
about 1.5 cups of mushrooms, chopped (I used closed cup)
a little flour
100ml single cream
2 generous Tbsp basil pesto (I used Sacla Organic)
salt and pepper


Heat a little olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and shallots.  Sautee till soft but not caramelised.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they just start to soften and release some moisture.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1-2 Tbsps flour – enough to soak up the moisture.  Add the cream and return to the heat, stirring continuously. Stir in the pesto.

If the sauce is too thick, thin it with the water that the pasta is cooking in.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if required.  Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, stiurring so that the pasta is evenly coated.  Serve immediately with a crunchy green salad.  

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  1. says

    You know, I always thought orecchiette was fresh– I only very recently saw dried ones! I love this sauce– pesto brings such fresh flavors to pasta!

  2. says

    5 hours sleep, what’s that????? I will still try and make this some time, the orecchiette that is. I love the sauce you’ve made here, Jeanne!

  3. says

    This was delicious! Just made it minus the shallots with lots more garlic and added a tiny bit of diced bell pepper… yummy! All for me :)