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Saturday, October 21. 2017
This is about warm pasta dishes, not cold. Room temperature pasta dishes like Nicoise are nice - but that is from Nice, not Italy.
I do not care for a pasta dish as a meal. It makes me feel full and lazy. I don't mind the way the Italians do it - and the way it was intended - which is as a small plate tasty treat as a Primo. Maybe 4-6 forks' worth. That's a meal's carbs, because the Secondi usually doesn't have any. Just meat, with some vegetables in oil on the side.
Southern Italians eat pasta, but they don't eat much of it when they do. Maybe the equivalent volume of a potato. Lasagna (which is Southern Italian) is served as a small Primo. - a little 3-or 4-inch square.
Sicily is not big on pasta. They make a few classics, like with sardines or clams, but do more rice and couscous as primi. On the mainland, the further north you go the less pasta there is. They do more rice (esp. risotto), gnocchi, and polenta for their primi.
Anyway, an Italian meal with a primo and secondo - and wine or beer - is lunchtime, not supper. (Italian breakfast is typically just an espresso or a latte - cappuccino - with a biscotti. Suppers are light, like a soup and lunch leftovers.) Italians tend not be be fat and even the elderly women mostly tend to look pretty spry except for the ones who stay home all day cooking for their relatives because they taste things all day long.
I married into a family with some roots in Caserta (lots of ziti and spaghetti pasta down there) and I know the rules:
- When pasta is cooked al dente, you take it out of the pot with pasta-grabbers and dump it directly into the saucepan with the sauce. Then you mix it with the sauce with the heat on. You don't drain pasta.
- Depending on the volume of sauce you have made, you dump a cup or half-cup of the pasta water into the pasta-sauce mix, and slop it all together with the pasta-grabber (with the heat on). Enough pasta water to be right. Heat is on. The pasta water binds it all together and helps the sauce coat the pasta completely.
My favorite pasta primo is Tagliatelle con Funghi (Fresh Porcini, ideally)
My second favorite is Aglio e Olio (as in photo)
What is the ultimate pasta Primo? The festive Timballo. I have never had a slice of one, and probably never will have the chance because it's not a restaurant item.
Tomato sauces? Yuk. Cristoforo Columbo and his pals, in my view, wrecked Italian cooking by bringing the tomato back from Central America. Not to mention the Cultural Appropriation sin of putting the Mayan tomato in Italian food. But wait - the Italians stole pizza from the Greeks? And pasta from China. Is there anything that college kitchens will be able to feed the brats now? I mean, like, ice cream is Egyptian and yoghurt is Turkish. Let them eat gluten-free cake.
What pastas do you like to make?
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I like Aglio e Olio too. But if you want a Sicilian treat, Pasta Norma is excellent.
I don't each much pasta, but when I do I prefer to make my own.
In Sienna a few years ago I took a cooking class given by a local woman. She had two of her nieces assist, which mostly consisted of translating instructions from Italian to English.
She had us make fresh pasta with double-zero flour and an egg. That is what I make. One cup of flour and one egg, mixed on the counter with a fork then kneaded a bit to combine. If she didn't like the texture (too dry) she added a little water. I usually roll it out flat and then cut into 1/8 - 1/4 inch wide ribbons.
My preferred sauce is the same as yours, aglio e olio. I must confess to also making a simple pomodoro, like that one very much. I've also been known to make a bolognese, though I use a bit less meat than the typical recipe.
I'd never been taught or told of the method you describe for combining the pasta and sauce, will give that a try the next time.
Egg dumplings. Flour, egg, salt mixed to make a slightly wet, sticky dough, dropped by the spoonful into boiling water for 5-6 minutes, drain and throw in salt, butter and pepper to taste. Egg dumplings can be added to any hearty stew or soup - use small spoonfuls because they swell up, clean the mixing bowl immediately or you'll have that wet eggy dough drying on the dish and then you'll have to throw the bowl out or go rent a jackhammer to get the stuff off.
I remember my parents fighting over how a dumpling should be made. He made his like you do and so do I, my mother on the other hand though they should be a great blob of Bisquick dropped into the liquid. Bisquick blobs were dreadful!
I just got back from 2 weeks in Rome, where I discovered that while I like Italian food very much, I do not like Italian meals. At least the ones you get in the tourist zone.
The serving sizes are as absurdly large as the prices are absurdly high.
There is one OK place, 'Toto' just off the Corso on Della Carrozze with a sign saying "Don't ask Pizza (Because is not food)". Roman pizza sure as hell is not food.
I love the URL for the link to the picture.
Spaghetti or any old pasta with melted butter, salt and pepper. My sister and I lived on this during college. Surprised we both don't weigh 350 pounds each.
Spaghetti with a rich tomato and meat sauce. My mother used to use beef bones, canned or fresh tomatoes, water to cover and simmer for three hours or so. Remove the bones making sure to keep any of the good stuff still attached add a pound of cooked sausage seasoned with basil, oregano and salt to taste. Simmer until desired thickness. Serve over the spaghetti.
Ravioli - no sauce, just grated cheese.
And I find I can control portion size better with ravioli.
When I realized that my mother was ill, I wept when I realized I would never eat her ravioli again. There were fine cooks among my aunts, but they all rightfully bowed to my mother.
If I make veal or chicken piccata, every so often I make extra sauce to toss with some linguine fine. It's yummy.
That's funny. Italian-Americans call that disgusting red glop "Sunday Gravy."
So do Irish-Italian-Americans, of whom there are many in the NY area.
At my mother's memorial service, I said that she cooked a mean pot of Scots-Irish spaghetti.
Last night I made a nice Fettucine Alfredo.... a glass jar Alfredo Sauce base to which I add some shreds of prosciutto a bit of fresh parsley some rind from a parmesan cheese and a cup of frozen peas in their frozen state. Shave some aged provalone over all and pour a rough Chianti.
Beginning of the week I made a Bolognese sauce from scratch using the traditional port, beef, and veal. I do this from time to time trying to recreate this dish that I had once in a restaurant in Florence.
I am always disappointed by the result.
It has to be in Italy. Have to confess, a Bolognese I had a vineyard outside Lucca was dynamite. Just coat the pasta in it, no pouring sauce on top.
They use milk in it.
I'm making beef stroganoff for Sunday dinner tomorrow - I prefer fettuccine noodles. Light on the onions, heavy on the mushrooms. Shrimp alfredo - add some broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix to it. Baked ziti made with chunks of grilled Italian sausage, onions and green peppers in the sauce. Plain old buttered noodles. Mac-n-cheese casserole made with ziti, extra cheese, peas and ham cubes.
Doc tells me I'd live a lot longer if I laid off the bread and pasta, I tell her if I can't live on bread and pasta I'd just as soon be dead. She thinks I'm joking.
35 years ago, I saw the following recipe on the back of a box of fettucine :
6 oz. sour cream
1/2 stick butter
2 egg yolks
plenty of grated parmesean
Stir it all together while heating and serve on the fettucine.
To this day, I've not had better Alfredo sauce.
Then there's my mother-in-law's (of Italian descent) red sauce, which is completely sacred.
Spaghetti with carbonara sauce. I cut out a featured recipe from th NUT decades ago and still think It's one of the best ever.
Back in the day, our mother turned the remains of the Sunday roast into Thursday's pasta covering. It was not great, but we all survived - and kudos to Mum whise thriftiness kept the family going.
When I hear pasta, I think of a lamentation from Josephine Tey's "Miss Pym Disposes" when a student laments that she'd always thought of spaghetti as "Fields of waving macaroni..".
Aglio e olio. But I make a variation a local Italian place I used to go to in Germany made, which they called "Infierno."
When warming the oil, before sauteeing the garlic, throw in 2-3 sizeable pinches of crushed red pepper flakes, and some black pepper. Heats that sumgun right up. Very nice with a cool vinaigrette garden salad, and some grilled Italian sausage or garlic shrimp.
Query for the fitness crew: anybody tried the Barilla high protein pasta? Not as sleep inducing as the regular stuff I find...