Pasta



It's my favorite food, and I could definitely eat any good pasta any time of day, any day!
That is why my experience with pasta lasts for more than thirty years. I tried good and bad and developed over the years some good and realy good pasta sauces and dishes.
When you make pasta, you must know few important facts and your pasta will rarely go bad.

So here are some tips of the experienced pasta maker:

To create the best possible pasta dish:

1. Have a good Italian dried or homemade fresh pasta
2. For a sauce use good canned whole peeled Roma tomatoes (Italian recommended) or fresh ripened Roma tomatoes. People usually make a mistake by using canned crushed tomato or tomato paste or sauce.
3. Fresh basil enhance sauce and pasta, much more than dried basil. It can also be substitute with 1 tsp of pesto.
4. At the end of cooking of tomato sauce always add a little bit of cream, it will give a great silky texture and improve taste of final sauce.
5. Whenever possible, add wine when cooking sauce with tomato if you like stronger sauce.


6. Trow few dried hot pepper seeds at the beginning of sauce cooking, along with a chopped garlic at the end of cooking. It really improves the taste.
7. Use good Parmesan or Romano grated cheese at the end.

So here are some of my sauces and pasta recipes:






Fresh pasta                      making of:





Regular pasta dough:

1 1/2  cups white flour (best 00 type)
2 extra large  eggs

Break the eggs into the flour well, and start working with a fork. Continue by hand until a dough is no long sticky. Leave it rest for an hour if possible. Roll out by hand or machine, as shown on pictures.





Green pasta

This is pasta, traditionally made with spinach.

3/4 cup cookies fresh spinach, or frozen spinach thawed and cooked for 5 minutes
1 1/2 cups white flour (Italian or any other type 00 works the best)
2 large eggs

Squeeze all the liquid out of spinach. Chop it finely. Add it to the flour with eggs, knead and roll out as normal pasta.




Red pasta

This pasta dough is made with tomato, and is called for that reason Pasta Rossa - Red pasta.

4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 large eggs
11/2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste

Mix all ingredients together and rest for an hour. Dry ten minutes before cooking because this dough is more soft than a regular one.




STEPS:

prepare pasta dough



 Split the dough in four or more pieces and start developing on a a pasta machine on lowest setting (1). 



When the dough is out take it and put back on higher setting (2). If you want really thin pasta, last setting should be (6).



Take your long dough strip out and lay over floured surface. Continue developing until last dough is used. 


Start cutting the dough into narrow strips. Leave it to dry a bit and mix with some flour.


Cook in large pot of boiling water until they are ready (3 min- 5 min)


Spread over some freshly made sauces from the list.








SAUCES

MORE ON THIS POST

BASICS:



Basic tomato sauce for pasta (without fresh tomatoes):
for 4 people:

1/2 small onion
1 large can of Italian peeled tomatoes
3 garlic cloves chopped
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dry oregano and basil mixed
salt, papper
1 tbsp olive oil

heat the olive oil and add chopped onion in. After 5 min, add whole jar of tomatoes cut in pieces or crushed in the pot. cook slowly on low for about 20 min- 30 min. If it evaporates add spoon of water or if you prefer stronger taste, bit of vine. At the end add garlic, herbs and pepper and salt and cook for about 1 minutes. 
If prefer more creamy and les acidic taste, add bit of cream at the end of cooking. 
Most of my sauces are finished with a spoon of cream at the end.


Basic pasta sauce (with fresh tomatoes)
for 4 people:

8 fresh Roma tomatoes
3 garlic cloves chopped
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dry oregano and basil mixed
salt, papper
1 tbsp olive oil

Immerse tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minutes. Take them out and put in cold water. Cool them and cut in pieces. Heat the olive oil and add tomatoes cut in pieces or crushed in the pot. Cook slowly on low for about 30 min. If it evaporates add spoon of water or if you prefer stronger taste, bit of vine. At the end add garlic, herbs and pepper and salt and cook for about 1 minutes. 
if wanted, cream can be added at the end.



Bolognese sauce


2 cups canned tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup (75ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped pancetta
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1lb ground beef
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp tomato paste (if needed)
3/4 cup (175ml) good-quality dry wine
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/4 cups (155g) freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan


PREPARATION
Drain the tomatoes, reserving their juice. Chop the tomatoes and set aside with their juice. Warm the oil in a pan. Add the pancetta and saute until golden with onion, until softened, 10-12 minutes. Add to the vegetables in the pan and sprinkle with salt. Saute until the meat is lightly colored, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juice and wine. Simmer until sauce is thick, about 1/2 hour. Check the seasoning and set aside. Spread over cooked pasta.



Fresh Seafood sauce:
1lb mussels
1/2 lb scallops
1/2 lb peeled shrimps
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup vine
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 tbsp cream (milk)
Regular tomato sauce explained previously

Clean mussels and shrimps in clean fresh water. Heat in large pan olive oil and add finely chopped garlic and parsley. Cook for about 5 min and add shrimps and cook on both sides for about 10 min and add scallops and mussels. Add vine and cook all until soft and mussels open. Meantime tomato sauce should be ready and you can add in seafood along with 3 tbsp of "seafood liquid". If sauce is too thick, add few tbsp of tomato paste and water. Cook for about 5 more min. At the end add 1 tbsp of cream or milk, more chopped garlic and basil and oregano. Mix well and spoon over cooked pasta.  


Not-fresh Seafood sauce:

1 1/2 pack of mixed frozen seafood
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup vine
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 tbsp cream (milk)

Regular tomato sauce explained earlier

Heat in large pan olive oil and add finely chopped garlic and parsley. Cook for about 1-2 min and add seafood and cook on both sides until defrosted. Add vine and cook all until soft. Meantime your tomato sauce should be ready and you can add in your seafood. If sauce is too thick, add few tbsp of tomato paste and water. Cook for about 5 more min. At the end add 1 tbsp of cream or milk, more chopped garlic and basil and oregano. Mix well and spoon over cooked pasta.  







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"DRY" SAUCES PASTA

These are basically no sauces pasta, what you prepare at a same time aside from pasta integrates at the end with cooked pasta. Mixing put "coat" of pasta "dressing" perfectly over cooked pasta.



Arugula truffle macaroni




2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
250 gr (1/2 lb) pancetta or prosciutto diced
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, cut 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp black truffle paste (cream) in a jar
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano, plus extra for serving
1 bunch of baby arugula
500 gr (1 lb) big shaped dry pasta (penne, farfalle, macaroni) 

Bring  salted water to a boil in a large pot.
Meanwhile, in a saute pan or big oval clay pot dish, heat the olive oil over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook gently until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add prosciutto and cook for 5 more minutes. Add cherry tomatoes cut in halves and cook five more minutes until tomato skin starts to peel off.Remove from the heat. Take the skin of tomatoes out. Cook the pasta, drain, reserving little bit of cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan with the reserved cooking water to the pan. Add the arugula and toss for about 30 more seconds. Add the truffle paste and the grated cheese; mix well and toss over high heat for one minute.

VARIATIONS:
If you prefer tomato taste here, add 1/2 l of cherry tomatoes or opt out for more dry version.
If you love wild mushrooms, add along truffle paste, previously bake 1 lb of wild mushrooms in oven with a bit of olive oil and basil, salt and pepper and add to the sauce.


Pasta carbonara


A true carbonara has no cream. The key is to toss and thoroughly mix the cooked pasta off the heat with the cheese, eggs, pepper, and pasta water, to create a creamy yet not overly thick sauce.

3 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
150 g Pancetta, or good Bacon
1 lb Spaghetti
1 ¼ cups freshly grated Parmigiano or Romano
4 large Eggs, separated
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Bring large pot of water to boil, and add 2 tbsp salt.

Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and bacon in a pan set over medium heat, and cook unit the pancetta/bacon has rendered its fat and is crispy and golden. Remove from the heat and set aside (do not drain the fat).
Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until just al dente. Scoop out ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
Add the reserved pasta water to the pan with the bacon, and then toss in the pasta and heat, shaking the pan, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add 1 cup of the Parmigiano, the egg whites, and pepper to taste, and toss until thoroughly mixed.
Divide the pasta among four warmed serving bowls. Make a nest in the center of each one, and gently drop an egg yolk into each nest. Season the egg yolks with more pepper and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup Parmigiano over the top. Serve immediately.





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Unusual Pasta:
Dumplings for Soup

Canederli

(Bread dumplings)

Who doesn't like, at this or any time of the year, bowl of warm chicken soup with amazing dumplings made of prosciutto, Italian sausage and cheese?!



These dumplings, influenced by Slavs and Austrians are popular in Northern Italy as a great way to use up old bread. They can be served also as a side dish or in a soup, how I did.
Any way you serve them, they'll probably be the tastiest dumplings you have ever tried!

Ingredients:
1/2 lb 250 g stale bread finely shred
4 eggs + 1 egg white
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
60 g prosciutto chopped
60 g Italian salami chopped
4 tbsp flour
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley and scallion tops
freshly ground pepper
freshly grated Parmesan

meat broth(chicken or beef)/soup, preferably homemade

Combine eggs and egg white, nutmeg, salt milk and bread in a bowl, until is soaked . If it's too liquid, add more bread.
On a stove saute onion, add prosciutto and salami. Take it off the stove after short cooking and mix in with egg mixture. Add all other ingredients, except broth/soup.
Make the broth boil and put in teaspoon sized dumplings. When they start floating, they are ready. Serve them with a broth or meat etc.. with a Parmesan atop.



These are some type of dumplings but not like any other, these are gnocchi, made of flour, potato and eggs:

Gnocchi al Gorgonzola


Pumpkin/ Sweet potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce


This variation made with pumpkin is typical of the cooking traditions in Northern Italy and is consumed mainly in fall, when pumpkin is in season but you can use instead sweet potato or yam as described in Julia’s cookbook.






Ingredients:
11/2 lb (750g) pumpkin/yam/sweet potato
1 cup Italian "00" flour or all-purpose flour
1 egg
salt to taste
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Gorgonzola sauce:
150 g young Gorgonzola cheese*
3 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
½ cup (60g) freshly grated Parmesan
ground white pepper, to taste






Preparation

Sauce:
In double broiler, melt butter and add cheese. Dissolve it completely in butter. Add the cream. Heat and stir until it gets thick and then add salt and Parmesan. White pepper should be added at a very end.



Gnocchi:
Begin by preparing the pumpkin. Cut it in half, without removing the peel, and place in a baking dish. Cover the pumpkin with aluminum foil and cook at 350F/180C oven for about an hour. Once the pumpkin is tender, remove it from the oven and let cool.
Heat a oil in a pan over a stove top and add a pumpkin/yam, cook more until water evaporates then peel and pass through a potato masher.
To make the dough for the pumpkin gnocchi, place the mashed pumpkin on a flat work surface. Add 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and Parmesan. Mix together with the flour. Check the consistency of the dough: it should be soft and light and not sticky to your fingertips.
At this point, shape the gnocchi. Dust the work surface with a little flour and cut off a small amount of the gnocchi dough. Roll this into a log and cut into small cylindrical pieces.
Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water. When they start floating at the top, they are ready. Drain them and serve with prepared sauce.

* Gorgonzola should be young not aged because aged has overpowering taste for the sauce.



More of my pasta dishes:

Homamade smoked salmon pasta

Black ink seafood pasta



Penne with lamb sauce


Meat lasagna (recipe link)

 
Timpano (recipe link)











Pasta con Mascarpone salsa


It's a very simple but flavuorful pasta.
The best pasta to use with this type of sauce are fettucine or tagliatelle. 

Mascarpone salsa (sauce):

150 g 2/3 cup mascarpone                                         
2 egg yolks
100 g prosciutto or pancetta, cut in thin strips
50 g 2/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese




Cook the pasta and drain. In a heated serving bowl dilute mascarpone with few tbsp of pasta water. Add egg yolks, beating them with a spoon. Mix in prosciutto and half a grated cheese. Toss thoroughly. Top with a rest of the cheese.


For good pesto you need:

2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 garlic chopped cloves
1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1/2-1 tsp salt
black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmigiano
1/4 cup grated pecorino sardo (mild pecorino version)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Crush basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, salt, pepper by using circular motion until into basil paste. Add cheese. Mix. Add olive oil.
If you cook pasta, use couple of tbsp of cooking water to steer in with pesto, when serving .
Pesto is the best when freshly prepared before serving with pasta.
If you making it in food processor, do not over process cheese.



Ravioli Rossi al Pesto



Ravioli dough is made with tomato where it get it's fine pink colour and is the best if cooked in chicken or fish broth.

Filling:
1lb - 2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of Pesto sauce (from previous recipe)
1 egg yolk
salt, pepper

Red tomato pasta dough (recipe on my Pasta page)
grated parmigiano

Drain ricotta and combine with pesto, egg yolk salt and pepper.
Make pasta dough and place one tsp of filling on one side of the dough sheet. Cover with the other and create and cut out little squares with filling in the middle and tightly closed edges of dough.

Anna del Conte’s Sweet Gnocchi Hearts

I recently learned about this simple and delicious, gluten free, recipe from new Anna del Conte's cookbook created with her granddaughter.

Makes 12 hearts

4 large eggs
175g caster sugar
50g cornflour, sifted
500ml single cream
the zest of 1 lemon

Beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy. Put the cornflour into a bowl, add a little of the cream (about four tablespoons) and beat well to form a liquid paste. Now pour the cornflour paste into the egg-and-sugar mixture and beat well to incorporate. Pour in the rest of the cream, add the lemon zest, and continue beating until the mixture is well blended. Transfer to a saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring the whole time, until the mixture is quite thick and the first bubbles break the surface (about five minutes). Cook and stir for a couple more minutes.

Moisten your silicone moulds with a drop of cold water and fill them with the custard. Spread the mixture all round each mould, filling every corner. When the shapes are cold, put them in the fridge.They can stay there for a day or two. 

Poached blueberries

250g blueberries
2 tbsp caster sugar
the juice of 1 lemon

Rinse berries under cold water, put them in a pan and add the sugar. Cook until the berries break up. Mix in the lemon juice and that’s it. Let the berries get cold in the fridge and then serve them in a bowl or around the gnocchi hearts.


Sweet coffee gnocchi
One more great sweet, for coffee lovers

170 g of flour
40 g of corn starch
2 egg yolks
100 g of sugar
100 g of butter
1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp water
1 tsp of ground espresso
a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa
baking powder (6g)
1 tsp vanilla extract (0,5 g)
little milk (optional)
icing sugar


Mix the flour with the starch, sugar, the two types of coffee,
cocoa, baking powder and vanilla. Add the egg yolks and butter
and mix well. If necessary add a few drops of milk. Divide the
dough in half and form 2 ‘sausages’ a thickness of about 4 cm.
Wrap them in foil place them in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Preheat the oven to 160C. Cut the sausages into slices about 2 cm
high, take a fork and press gently into the surface (as if you're
stamping it with a seal) to get the ridges to obtain sweets like
gnocchi.Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper
and bake for about 20 minutes. Let them cool. Place each
‘gnocchi’ in a candy paper cups, arrange them all on a platter
and sprinkle with icing sugar.




SWEET PASTA

You wouldn't believe but sweet pasta can also taste amazing!




                                                            Chocolate Pasta! (recipe link)

Sweet spaghetti pie with raisin sauce


For the pie

½ lb (250g) thin spaghetti, broken up

2 tbsp oil for pasta 

water1 tbsp

 salt 

3 eggs

½ cup (125g) sugar

Juice and grated zest of 1 orange

1/3 cup (60g) sultana raisins

1 tbsp grated Parmesan

1 tbsp melted unsalted butter, plus extra

Sauce (optional):1 lb (500g) raisins3 cups (750g) water1 cup (250 ml) port vine½ tsp ground each cloves and cinnamon½ cup (170g) honey

Sauce: Boil raisins for one hour in the water Put the boiled raisins in a processor to get about 2 cups of syrupy sauce. Return raisin sauce in a pan and add port, cloves and cinnamon and honey. Simmer about ½ hour. Cool.Pie: Preheat the oven to 350F-180C. Meantime, cook the broken spaghetti until tender. Rinse with cold water. Drain. Combine remaining ingredients except melted butter in a large bowl. Add spaghetti and mix well. Transfer into buttered pan and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for about 45 minutes until golden. Do not overcook so spaghetti don’t get “crispy”.
Serve with raisin sauce if desired.

Chocolate Tagliatele Torta 
Ingredients:
250 grams of fresh noodles
250 grams of sugar
250 grams of peeled almonds
100 grams of chocolate drops
butter q.b.
dry liqueur ( optional)
Chop the almonds and sugar together , after you add the chopped chocolate chips and divide the mixture into 4 parts. Take a baking dish , cover with parchment paper ( soaked and squeezed ) and put in it a few knobs of butter. Take the mixture of sugar, almonds and chocolate chips and make a first thin layer in the pan. Take 250 grams of noodles , break it up into 3 parts, and then cover them with a layer inserted into the pan . Sprinkle the whole thing with liquor. Redo the same layers ,mentioned (sugar - almond - drops noodles + + dash of liqueur ) two more times , ending it all with a layer of mixture of sugar , almonds and chocolate chips.
As a finishing touch , add some butter over the cake and in the meantime, preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Then enter your cake in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, until the noodles above are golden




Chestnut ravioli from Calabria

 (Calciuni)

Chestnuts are my favourite fall sweets and in this combination with coffee, liquor and chocolate-just magical!


Ingredients:
¾ lb (375g) fresh chestnut or
 300g canned or pureed chestnuts
2 tbsp strong liquid black espresso coffee
30 g quality dark chocolate
2 tbsp sweet sherry
3 tbsp sugar or to taste
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

The dough:
1 cup (125 g) unbleached flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp water
1 beaten egg, to seal ravioli

Oil for baking

Honey or confectioners’ sugar for dusting


If using a fresh chestnuts, place them in a water and boil until tender – about one hour. Chestnuts should be cut with a knife in X shape before starting to cook, to avoid exploding.
Peel and puree them. Melt the chocolate in a pan and add coffee. Mix well and add chestnut puree, blending well. Add more sherry if the mixture is too dry, it should be consistency of mashed potato. Add sugar if necessary.
Make the dough like explained on my Cooking101 and Pasta page. When dough is ready, cut it in half and roll as thin a s possible on a pasta machine (set 7) or by hand, into long strips. Place 1 tsp of chestnut filling over the dough strip, 2in (5cm) apart. Cover with second part of dough, but first brush egg whites around every piece, before topping with other part of dough. Seal every ravioli by hand. Cut them and reseal again.
Heat the oil and fry them until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towel and serve with honey or confectioner sugar.

My tip: If you don’t like frying, like me, you can cook these in boiling water like regular ravioli. It will still taste great!



Tagliatelle con Noci

Christmas Sweet Tagliatelle with Cinnamon and Hazelnuts from Umbria

This pasta dessert is the best when pasta is homemade I added few my own tips: substitute homemade pasta for cocoa pasta and add mascarpone lemon sauce*

my twist for this is lemon mascarpone sauce*





 

Ingredients:

nut mix

1 cup (125g) roasted hazelnuts
¼ lb (125g) lightly toasted breadcrumbs  
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
150g melted unsalted butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp sweetened cocoa powder (optional)

1 lb/ 0.5 kg fresh egg pasta cut in tagliatelle strips

Mascarpone lemon sauce:
100 gr mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
lemon zest
2-3 tbsp sugar (to taste)


Toast hazelnuts in the oven or a pan, lightly, for about ten minutes, peel them and grind coarsely. Combine nuts, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and cinnamon.
Cook pasta and drain. While is still dripping slightly, return to the pan add nut mixture and pour over melted butter and sugar. Toss well to get nuts and sugar equally spread on every noodle. Spread with sweetened cocoa if you like or my mascarpone lemon sauce*.

If you make cocoa spaghetti see instructions here.

Mascarpone lemon sauce: heat ingredients at the stove and mix them until smooth and melted together.