Orecchiette con Aglio e Peperoncino

Orecchiette with Garlic and Chilli

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All pasta shapes work well in this incredibly fiery pasta dish, but orecchiette are particularly suitable, since their blandness and chewy texture act as a perfect foil for the hot sauce. The region that created this recipe, Basilicata, is famous for its use of chilli (known locally as il diavolino or ‘the little devil’), which locals eat in large quantities and intensity without any obvious ill-effects.

Ingredients

  • 150 ml/¼ pint/ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 whole dried red chillies
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 400 g/14 oz dried orecchiette

Method

  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a high heat.
  2. Heat the oil in another very large pan. Add the garlic and chillies and fry over low to medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the garlic is soft and golden brown and the chillies are very shiny and swollen. Do not let either burn.
  3. Scoop the garlic and chillies out of the oil with a slotted spoon.
  4. Put the garlic and chillies in a food processor or blender and add the tomato paste. Process until smooth, then stir back into the oil remaining in the pan.
  5. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook for 12-14 minutes until just tender, then drain.
  6. Transfer the pasta into the pan containing the garlic and chilli mixture. Toss over the heat until the pasta is coated with the sauce, then serve.

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