The recipe first appeared in Food & Wine in 2010, the year Robbins was named a Best New Chef.

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Orecchiette with Eggplant, Burrata and Chiles
Credit: Victor Protasio

I still remember the moment I fell hard for Best New Chef alum Missy Robbins’ cooking. It was over a bowl of pasta: orecchiette, eggplant, parsley, lemon zest, and burrata. I didn’t eat it at Spiaggia, the fine-dining palace in Chicago where she worked as executive chef for five years, or at A Voce, the outfit she ran from 2008 to 2013. It wasn’t even at Lilia, her irresistible Brooklyn HQ where getting a reservation feels akin to finding a golden ticket (and where she recently won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: New York City). Nope. I ate this dish for the first time (and several times thereafter) standing alone at my stove. So good and so easy, it never made it to the table.

The recipe first appeared in Food & Wine in 2010, the year Robbins was named a BNC. Looking at it today, she says, she’s pretty sure F&W put the dish through a workout. “A Voce was way fussier and way more intricate. Everything had lots of garnishes,” Robbins tells me. Funny thing is, the dish that ran back then is much truer to the way she cooks today. “I don’t think I really found my true, true voice until now,” Robbins says. “I still want an elevated style, even if there’s a homeyness about it. Getting to simplicity takes a lot of thought.”

I couldn’t agree more. For me, this elegant pasta remains an almost perfect expression of thoughtful, satisfying home cooking. I know it will stay a staple in my kitchen for years to come—interspersed with as many visits as possible to wherever chef Robbins is cooking.