This spicy pasta is terrific on its own, but it’s also a perfect foil for grilled shrimp, grilled flank steak, or grilled pork tenderloin. For steak or pork, grill the meat in one piece, and then slice it and lay it over the pasta to let the juices blend in.
In a large pot, bring 6 qt. water and 2 Tbs. salt to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss it immediately with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Let the pasta cool completely in the refrigerator. Peel and seed the roasted peppers and cut them into 1-inch pieces.
Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the bread and fry, turning occasionally, until golden on both sides. Transfer the bread to a food processor. In the same skillet over medium heat, fry the almonds, stirring until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the almonds, tomatoes, garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes to the processor and pulse several times. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar with the remaining 4 Tbs. olive oil. With the processor running, gradually pour in the olive oil mixture until well combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 1 hour before using.
In a large bowl, toss the orecchiette with the peppers, sauce, and the chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (At this point, the pasta can be held for a few hours in the refrigerator, if you like.) Put the pasta in a serving bowl and garnish with the parsley leaves (and grilled shrimp or sliced grilled meat, if using).
nutrition information (per serving):
17, Fat Calories
150, Saturated Fat
9, Monounsaturated Fat
47, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips