Orecchiette, which translates from the Italian to "little ears" is pasta the size of a thumbprint and shaped like a cupped hand, perfect for catching bits of flavor so that every bite of this pasta sings with lemon, garlic and mint. The pasta can be assembled ahead of time, the dressing kept in a separate jar, the garnishes on the side and everything tossed together at the picnic site before serving.

Serves 4 to 6


  • 8 ounces orecchiette pasta or other small shell pasta
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing the pasta
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pint mixed baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 head frisée, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces cooked or canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. torn mint leaves
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish


Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water until tender but firm to the bite, about 5 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, toss with a splash of olive oil to coat, then place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to cool.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking the olive oil with the lemon zest and juice, the shallot and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, frisée and beans to the pasta and dress lightly with the vinaigrette. Garnish with the hazelnuts, mint and cheese.

From A Simple Feast by Diana Yen, © 2014 by the Jewels of New York Group, LLC. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.


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