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Friday, April 9, 2010

Caprese and Meatball Orecchiette Pasta

The name of this pasta is SO difficult to pronounce: "oh-reck-ee-et-tay." It means "little ears" in Italian, which I thought was cute :)  I was intrigued to make it because everything that goes into it is small and round, which sounded so adorable. I didn't realize that I would set out on a year long search in order to find this pasta. Funny how when I didn't have an interest in using it, I always saw it at the markets, but when I sought it out, suddenly it disappeared. If it is difficult to locate where you live, please be more mature than I was and replace it for pasta shells or bow-tie pasta :)

I love anything well seasoned and with plenty of sauce, two things this recipe does not include. However, it is --much to my surprise-- still very tasty because of the freshness of the ingredients and the enjoyable flavors of the fresh mozzarella and basil. It would have been a shame to disguise their flavor with a sauce. The meatballs provide a lot of flavor, so take care to season them well. The chicken broth is also well seasoned and adds a bit of salt, so be careful not to over salt this.

This is loosely based on a Giada recipe and it serves 4 adults.

-1 1/2cups boccini, halved (mini sized fresh mozzarella balls)
-I 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used half yellow and half red tomatoes)
-1 pound orecchiette pasta (or shell shaped pasta)
-1 pound meatballs (ready or homemade)
-2 cups chicken broth
-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
-3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
-1/2 cup fresh parmesan shavings

-Boil the pasta according to package instructions, al dente.
-Prepare the meatballs. A tip for cooking these is to bake them in the oven instead of in batches over the stove. Although I haven't included these ingredients above, I make my meatballs using 1 pound ground beef and throw random things in like marinara sauce, pesto and crushed red pepper.
-Simmer the cooked meatballs with the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and chicken broth for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to half.
-Toss the meatballs, tomatoes and sauce with the pasta, fresh mozzarella and basil. Serve hot with parmesan shavings on top.
-Enjoy and leave a comment :)


  1. Yum Yum YUM!!! I am bookmarking this right now to make. This looks great and I just love your humor on the pasta :) We love pasta made from Kamut Khorasan Wheat so I will for sure love to try it with this. My hubs is going to be bonkers for this -thanks!!!

  2. We love to make this! When I make the meatball mixture, I always make extra and freeze it, that way the next time around the dish comes together a lot faster. I don't usually have the mozarrella balls and cherry tomatoes (or basil for that matter) handy, so making this dish takes a bit of planning but ITS SO WORTH IT.