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Nigel Slater’s orecchiette, salsa verde and parmesan crisps recipe

16 Oct

The recipe

Warm a nonstick frying pan over a moderate heat. Finely grate 12 tbsp (about 40g) of parmesan. Place the cheese in six piles in the warm pan, smoothing each one out into a disc about the size of a digestive biscuit. Watch carefully as the cheese melts. It will take about 2 minutes. As soon as it turns pale gold turn off the heat, but leave the cheese in place. Put a deep pan of water on to boil for the pasta. When it comes to the boil, salt it generously.

Cut 250g of broccoli into very small florets, much smaller than you would to serve it as an accompanying vegetable. Dunk the florets into the pasta water and let them cook for 3 minutes, till tender and bright. Remove them with a draining spoon or metal spider and refresh under cold running water to keep their crispness and colour.

Let the water return to the boil, then add 125g of orecchiette or other small pasta, stirring as it goes in to prevent it from sticking. Cook at a rolling boil for 9 minutes or until tender but with a little bite left.

While the pasta cooks, put the ingredients for the sauce into the blender: 20g of parsley, 20g of basil, 12 large mint leaves and the juice of a lemon. Now blend in 8 tbsp of olive oil and a little salt. You should have a thick green dressing.

Drain the pasta and toss with the broccoli and dressing. Lift the cheese discs from the pan and break into pieces over the pasta and vegetables.

The trick

Don’t let the pan for the crisps get too hot – just hot enough to melt the cheese. As soon as the cheese colours lightly, turn off the heat as they will continue cooking in the residual heat. Slide a palette knife under the warm crisps to remove Don’t let them cool before removing.

The twist

Instead of broccoli, you could use brussels sprouts (halved) or long-stemmed broccoli cut into short lengths. You could introduce anchovies into the sauce (you need 6 fillets for this recipe). The idea works with boiled, thickly sliced potatoes instead of pasta, dressing them while they are warm and freshly sliced.