The multiple pasta dishes and their shapes are too many to count. I’ve adapted this recipe for orecchiette with shrimp, fennel and arugula from a book titled The Southern Italian Kitchen. I found this gem of a book in an odds and ends shop, the kind my husband likes to drag me to every now and them. While he was busy looking for tools and other “boring” items, I hung around the book section. The book mentioned above was one of my finds.
This awesome recipe is one of those that you can make in about 30 minutes. BONUS!!! You can definitely add this delicious recipe to your “busy weeknight” menu arsenal. The region of Calabria is where orecchiette with shrimp, fennel and arugula comes from. This is a region located smack in the “toe of the boot” that is Italy’s geographical shape. Seafood is an integral part of the cuisine of this area because it is bordered by an ample coastline.
The word orecchiette means little ear. I love how the Italians name their pastas. Italian cuisine is regional, and uses not only fresh, but also very seasonal ingredients. It’s really the best way to eat. Fennel is also used in many of the regional cuisines of India, Afghanistan, and Iran. It can also be used as a digestive, and a breath freshener given its sweet taste.
Fennel originated in the Mediterranean basin. It was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Anglo-Saxons considered it sacred. And, in Colonial America it was hung in homes to perfume homes after a long winter and d left the house stuffy, and rather smelly.
Shrimp, fennel and arugula create a beautiful flavor profile. The sweetness of the shrimp, alongside the peppery taste of arugula, and the fragrance of fennel make for a true feast for your taste buds.
I was at a party a few months ago and somehow arugula came into the conversation. Don’t ask me how. The guy I was talking to said that growing up his Italian relatives considered arugula a weed. A WEED!! I found that amusing because today arugula is such a popular ingredient in so many different foods. We both had a good laugh over it.
- 8 oz. orecchiette
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2--3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes cored and diced
- ¾ cup white wine
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 10 oz. medium shrimp
- ½ tsp. Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
- dash of nutmeg
- ½ cup arugula
- 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
- ¼ cup Pecorino
- 2 Tbsp. parsley finely chopped
- Cook pasta according to the package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a braising pan heat the olive oil on medium. Saute the garlic. Stir in the tomato, wine and lemon juice. Reduce the liquid to half. Add in the shrimp, salt, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and nutmeg. Toss in the orecchiette and the arugula, and finally sprinkle in the lemon zest and the Pecorino. Garnish with chopped parsley.