Orecchiette ‘Little Ears’ is a pretty and very wholesome pasta shape. The mushrooms and orecchiette blend giving this bake a great rich earthiness with a “pop” on freshness in the form of the lemon. It has a sense of glam to it.
400g orecchiette pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 lemon, zest only
1 tsp chopped thyme
1 tbsp chopped chives
100ml white wine
A generously handful of spinach
100ml pasta cooking liquid (retained from the orecchiette)
4 tbsp grated parmesan
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
1 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chive lengths, to garnish
Cook the pasta according to the instruction on the packaging. Retain 100ml of the cooking water.
In the meantime, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme and chives. Keep stirring over a medium-high heat until the mushrooms are fully cooked, then pour in the wine and simmer for 2 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/ fan 160°C/gas 4.
Combine the cooked pasta and mushrooms in a large bowl. Toss in the spinach.
Mix the pasta cooking liquid into the mascarpone and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix in the cream and parmesan and pour over the mushrooms and pasta. Check the seasoning.
Brush a 25cm gratin dish with butter. Spoon the mushrooms and pasta mixture into the gratin dish. Mix together the breadcrumbs with chives and parsley and sprinkle over the pasta.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until set and golden on top.
Garnish with chive lengths.
Tip: This one works very well with penne pasta or farfalle shapes too.