This is not a °recipe°, it's more just a case study on how one might go about improvising a pasta sauce based on very few, simple ingredients. In this case, I have cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and pancetta. The other two ingredients are a clove of garlic, olive oil, and white wine. Don't salt at all because the pancetta is very salty. You will just want to chop the garlic finely, and let it golden in a pan with olive oil. Add the pancetta (as I said in the intro post, perhaps a handful and you can cut them into pieces or strips). Add a half-cup or so of white wine and let the ingredients meddle for a couple minutes. Then you will add in your cherry tomatoes (halved so that they release their juices). Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes are getting on the soft side, then add in some zucchini and continue cooking until they are at a tenderness that you like- people tend to be divided on how soft zucchini should be...! If you think that your 'sauce' is too runny, you can add a bit of flour and continue cooking over medium-high heat and it should thicken up! Have you ever done some sauce improvising and come up with something unbelievably tasty? Let me know!
Jasmine's Garden Pasta (with Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes)
500g pasta (for 4 people), try fusilli
2 zucchini (zucchine in Italian!), sliced thinly
1 cucumber, sliced thinly
2-3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cloves of garlic, grated or chopped
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
Boil the pasta for the amount of time as indicated on the package (to al dente). In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. Wait about 1 minute and then add the zucchini and the white wine. Turn the heat down and let this all stew together until the wine is mostly evaporated and the zucchini are fully cooked and slightly golden. When the pasta is ready, drain it, and put it into a large bowl. Add the cooked zucchini, the cucumber slices, the cherry tomatoes, and some basil leaves. The "sauce" leftover from cooking the zucchini should also be added, if there's not alot, add more olive oil to the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything extremely well and then pop it in the fridge and let it rest for at least one hour before serving. It's meant to be eaten as a cold pasta. Feel free to add extra garlic to the pasta afterwards, or some freshly grated parmesan.
This is a surprisingly simple pasta dish to make that sounds and tastes much fancier than it's preparatory demands. One of those dishes to keep in your arsenal when guests come from far, far away and you need to impress with zero stress...!
Fig and Prosciutto Tagliatelle
400g fresh tagliatelle pasta (this is for people who have real appetites, they say ~80g/person)
6 figs, peeled and chopped into four pieces each
prosciutto crudo (or pancetta), as much as you like, cut into small strips
olive oil, couple tablespoons
Bring a pot of water to boil. While waiting, throw the fig pieces and prosciutto strips into a hot pan with the olive oil. Let them stew together on low-medium heat as you wait for the water to come to boil. Squish the figs a little bit to get some of the flavor out. Don't cook to the point of wear the figs are unrecognizable, you still want them to be in intact, chunky pieces. When the water boils, throw in the fresh pasta and literally cook for about 3 minutes. Drain, keep some pasta water aside. Add the pasta to the figs and prosciutto. Mix well and add some pasta water in case you think it's too dry. Don't add any additional salt anywhere because the prosciutto will be salty enough. That's it! Too easy right?!
Zucchine and Pancetta Summertime Risotto
2 cups of arborio rice
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
cubed pancetta, QB (as much as you like)
2 zucchine, sliced thinly
infinite supply of vegetable broth (ideally homemade); just kidding, it doesn't have to be infinite, but at least a couple cups because you never know how many you will need...
This is more or less what the start of making this dish looks like- first you melt the butter, add the chopped onions and pancetta and let the onion flavour really get into the butter. I would then add the zucchine and let sizzle for about 5 minutes. Then you add the rice and basically let it soak up all that onion-y buttery-ness. Once this has happened, after maybe 3-5 minutes add the wine; I would add about 3/4 cup. You continue to cook on medium heat until the wine has evaporated. At this point, you start adding the broth very slowly- a cup at a time. Add a cup, let the rice cook in it, once it's all absorbed, add another cup. Continue this process until the rice is cooked to the point of your liking. People are all very individualistic when it comes to risotto- some like it "harder" (more al dente) than others so it's really up to you. Hope you liked this one! Here's what it could look like...
Click here to go to David Rocco's official website where you can find a printable recipe. This is literally copied and pasted from that. Honestly, I have nothing to add to his recipe, it's perfection and so quick to make. I remember I prepped it in about 20 minutes, stored it in the fridge and went out for a bike ride, came back, popped it in the oven and dinner was ready another 20 minutes later!
Pasta al Forno (Oven-Baked Pasta)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the rigatoni cooks in salted boiling water, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan heat up olive oil and sauté garlic, eggplant, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and chili peppers for a few minutes. Add tomato purée and salt. Let cook for approximately 10 minutes on medium heat.
Drain rigatoni, add to the saucepan, sprinkle with some parmigiano and cook for another 30 seconds. Then place half the rigatoni in a baking dish, adding a layer of half of the mozzarella, half of the scamorza and another sprinkle of Parmigiano cheese over the pasta. Add the remaining rigatoni, and follow with a final layer of all the cheeses. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Chestnut Gnocchi with a Butter and Sage Sauce from Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy (Gnocchi di Castagne con Burron e Salvia)
Chestnut Gnocchi with a Butter and Sage Sauce
(from Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy)
250g chestnut flour
50g plain flour
1 tsp salt
flour, for dusting
6 sage leaves
20g Parmesan, grated
Boil the potatoes, drain and mash them. Place in a large bowl and combine with the chestnut flour, plain flour, and salt. Add the eggs and mix well to make a dough. Sprinkle some flour on a work surface and roll out the dough into long sausage shapes. With a sharp knife, cut out squares of approximately 2 cm. Press the tines of the fork into the squares to create edges.
Place a large saucepan of slightly salted water on the heat and bring to boil. At the same time, melt the butter in a large frying pan together the sage leaves. When the water boils, drop in the gnocchi and cook until they come up to the surface. Lift out with a slotted spoon and add to the butter and sage sauce together with a little of the cooking water. Mix well, remove from the heat and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Fresh lasagna pasta (typically in refrigerator section) enough to do at least three layers in your pan
If you're in Italy, Giovanna Rana ones work great, you'll probably need two packages
Bolognese sauce- see below for a quick summary on how to make this...
1 stick of celery
1 clove of garlic
350g ground meat (usually beef but could do a mixture of beef/pork/sausage innards)
glass of red wine
salt and pepper
1 large can of peeled tomatoes
So all you do is cut the first four ingredients into itty-bitty pieces. Some people even like to use a cheese grater. Then you make a soffritto (a tasty vegetable-based base) by frying all the veggies and garlic with oil until they are nice and soft. Then add your ground meat, let cook, when almost cooked through, add the wine, salt and pepper and keep cooking on medium heat until about half of the wine has evaporated. Then add your peeled tomatoes and lower the heat and basically let the flavours stew for as long as possible, a couple hours.
1 head of radicchio (round or long is fine)
1 cup heavy cream
50g Taleggio cheese or a flavourful cheese
mozzarella (for top if you like)
The only deviance you have to make here is that when you make the bolognese sauce, chop the radicchio into long strips and add it into the soffritto. For the "béchamel" which is actually a fake one but somehow works nice with this lasagna, just melt the Taleggio cheese into the cream on low heat with gentle whisking. When your bolognese is ready, start to spread a layer onto the bottom of a lasagna pan. Pour some of the cheesy goodness next, drizzle is more like it. Then add a layer of lasagna pasta. Repeat starting with the bolognese sauce until your pan is full. Add the mozzarella in pieces on the top layer if you like. Heat in oven at 180-200 degrees C for at least 30 minutes.
Note: in the photo above, I also added layers of cooked radicchio for fun.
It is a signature dish of Rome and one of the most recognized Italian recipes worldwide. This could be attributed to the fact that it's so simple to make and wonderfully delicious. It requires zero prep time and the only trick is it needs to be eaten as soon as it's made.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
1/4 cup cream or milk
30g pancetta (or to your liking)
salt and pepper, to taste
Cook your pancetta in a pan until slightly golden and set aside. Whip the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together in a bowl, you can add the pancetta as well or sprinkle it onto the pasta when it's plated (up to you!). Grate some fresh pecorino, add it to the mixture or save it to sprinkle on top of the pasta afterwards, or both. Cook your pasta to al dente and add the egg mixture immediately to the hot pasta, stir and serve! To make it fancier, you can also save the egg yolks and add one on top of each plate for presentation.
My goodness I can't believe it's Wednesday already, time flies. This is a recipe for pesto that you can use with pasta. It's also delicious on bread if you like. David Rocco cites that this is a dish typical of western Sicily, Trapani to be exact, hence the name of the pasta dish you make with it.
1 large bunch fresh basil
1 clove garlic
500g tomatoes, peeled and seeded
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
I use a mortar and pestle for pestos, maybe that's just the pharmacist in me but they say it's good for making pestos as well as each flavour is not tainted by the steel or other metals in food processors. Basically you start off by grinding your almonds and setting them aside, then doing the same to the basil and garlic, leave them in the mortar. Add the almonds back slowly and add the tomatoes to create a nice paste. The last three ingredients can be added to your own tastes. Of course, you could also throw all of these ingredients into a food processor, it would probably cut the prep time in more than half.
My Italian half and his father must have fresh bread every day at dinner, it's not optional. But what ends up happening is we start to hoard dry, stale bread. I have a whole bag of discarded inedible bits and pieces. That's what this soup is for. It's essentially a flavourful vegetable soup with nice chunks of bread throughout- you can make it as hearty as you want by changing which vegetables and how much bread you add.
Tomato and Stale Bread Soup
250mL extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
stale bread cut into pieces
2 cups of vegetable stock (homemade or bought)
salt and pepper
1 kg plum tomatoes with juices
Basically you start off by making a soffritto using the bolded ingredients. In case you don't know what this means, it's your base for lots of sauces and soups. You cook all the ingredients until the onions are clear and the other vegetables are soft. Then add the bread. Add some of the vegetable stock and stir, seasoning with salt and pepper along the way. Then add the plum tomatoes, crushing them with your spoon. Cook for 30 minutes and add the remaining stock as you see fit.