This post was created in partnership with Alessi Foods. All opinions are our own.
Have you been avoiding pasta because it’s not typically considered healthy? Good news: a new study found pasta can actually help you lose weight. The Italian researchers found that eaten in moderation, pasta can be part of a healthy diet. This is a full 180 of conventional wisdom, right? And it’s good news for Alex and me, because we’re big Italian cuisine fans. We’ve been enjoying pasta in moderation for years—so we’re glad it’s back in good graces! And lately, we’ve started to tend toward the more specialty shapes.
In Italian, orecchiette means “small ears”; it’s a small cup-shaped pasta. Here we’ve combined here with simple flavors: roasted asparagus, lemon, and feta cheese. What we’ve learned from our travels to Italy: simple is best. A few flavors elegantly combined can taste better than something that has taken all day to prepare. Anything goes with orecchiette: combine it with roasted vegetables as we have here, use fresh veg and load it with herbs in the summer, or simply douse it in marinara. This recipe takes just 7 ingredients and about 20 minutes to make. It’s so quick and simple it works for a weeknight meatless dinner, but it’s also elegant enough to serve for guests.
Orecchiette can sometimes be hard to find in the grocery, so here we’ve ordered pasta from Alessi Foods, a company descended from a real-life Italian family business started in the 1900’s. Alessi’s pasta is made with wheat grown in Italy, which is combined with spring water and then pressed using bronze dies. What’s unique about bronze dies? If you’re not familiar with pasta-making technology, dies are stamps that dough is pressed through to make different shapes of pasta. Bronze dies create a more porous texture that helps the pastas absorb sauce more effectively. All of this results in one very high quality pasta.
We tried this recipe once with any old orecchiette from the grocery and then compared against the bronze die Alessi pasta, and we could absolutely taste the difference! I was surprised to find that we really did need less olive oil, feta, and salt to make the flavors pop with the bronze die pasta, and the texture was lighter and fluffier.
If you’re interested in trying some bronze die orecchiette, you can order it online here. Buon appetito!
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this orecchiette with roasted asparagus and feta, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.
This recipe is…
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, then drain.
- Chop off the woody, thick ends of the asparagus, and chop the remaining stalks into 2-inch pieces. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt (or about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt) and several grinds of black pepper. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender (timing will depend on the thickness of the asparagus). Remove from the oven and drizzle with 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Taste, and add additional salt as necessary until well salted.
- Once the pasta is cooked, place it in a large bowl. Mix the warm pasta together with the asparagus, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2/3 of the feta, zest of 1/2 lemon, additional sea salt (or about 1/4 or more teaspoon kosher salt), and fresh ground pepper. Taste and adjust flavors as necessary. Garnish with sprinkles of feta, lemon zest, and fresh ground pepper, and serve immediately. (Note that if your pasta is not bronze die, you may have to add more flavoring with the garnish at the end.)
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.