I've cooked my way through all 264 recipes
in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!

April 19, 2010

Orecchiette alla Barese (p.203) and Oven-Braised Leeks (p. 324)

Orecchiette has always been my favorite pasta. It means little ears, and the pasta are the perfect size and shape. They're like tiny suction cups on my tongue. I love them.

Anyway, Orecchiette alla Barese is a pasta dish with broccoli rabe or, if that's not available (as it wasn't for me) it's a pasta dish with broccoli. It requires a few different pots and pans to cook things at the same time, so my timing for making this dish be ready at the same time as the side didn't really work, but someone else might have had more luck with it.

The broccoli are cleaned and coarsely chopped and put into an inch of boiling water. After about 5 to 10 minutes, the broccoli are supposed to have absorbed the majority of the water, and are to be put aside but kept warm until the other ingredients are ready. It might be that the water is absorbed by broccoli rabe but not by regular broccoli -- I left mine for over 10 minutes and the water remained. I eventually had to just drain the bulk of the water out of the dish to avoid having seriously overcooked broccoli.

In a separate pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Once the garlic is soft, add anchovies to the oil and mash them up a little bit with a fork. This is then combined with the broccoli and mixed together, and added to the orecchiette once it is cooked along with some hot pepper flakes. Fresh pepper is ground over the whole dish.

I wanted to make a vegetable side as well, so I decided on Oven-Braised Leeks. I've never done anything with leeks before, so I had to do some internet searching on how to prep them. I was a little astounded by how much of the leek goes to waste -- they have incredibly long leaves that are cut to about an inch above the bulb of the vegetable. The leeks are then cut in half and washed very thoroughly because they hold a lot of sand and dirt inside their leaves. 

Once the leeks are prepped, they are placed side by side in an oven safe dish and set aside while their sauce is made. The sauce is just chicken or veggie stock, EVOO, lemon juice, celery, oregano, a bay leaf, and peppercorns and coriander seeds that are all boiled down together. 

This is poured over the leeks and it goes in the oven for about half an hour, covered part of the time with aluminum foil.

Matt and I were both expecting to be so-so about this meal. Broccoli isn't my favorite veggie, and neither of us were sure about the leeks (in fact, I halved the recipe just so we wouldn't have to deal with a bunch of leftovers we wouldn't enjoy.) We were thrilled that both of these turned out to be delicious and filling, and actually went really well together. I'm sad that this is the only leek recipe in the cookbook -- they're good!

1 lb. bag of orechiete -- $1.79
broccoli -- $2.99 (with a couple of heads leftover)
Total Cost of Orecchiette alla Barese: $4.78 (enough left for several meals)

leeks -- $3.13
chicken stock -- $2.99 (plenty leftover)
coriander seeds -- $5.49 (a nice addition to my spice rack)
lemon -- $.42
Total Cost of Oven-Braised Leeks: $12.03 (1 serving left)


  1. big fan of the leak, but don't use it nearly enough. great as a flavoring like you would use shallots (split down the middle and then fine chop for confetti style and then throw in the pan in the early shallot/onion/garlic/oil phase of a recipe) but my favorite leak appreciation is just oven roasting (split down the middle and then drizzle with oil, salt and pepper).


  2. I am a big leek fan too! We use them all the time. As a pizza topping, sauteed in a soup or sauce. Very yummy. My biggest problem is finding good ones at the grocery store.


Thanks for dropping by! Love, Katrina.