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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Less than 30 minutes

25May 12

Sage and Gorgonzola Fettucine

Sage and Gorgonzola Fettucine

You might notice that I like my ribbon pastas. This one’s also suitable for vegetarians (but not vegans): it’s another delightfully simple pasta dish – almost stupidly so! – with a rich, creamy, meat-free sauce.

Gorgonzola has been around for over a thousand years, is named after a town in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, and is a soft, crumbly, blue-veined cheese made from the milk of goats or cows. Very similar to the French Roquefort, both cheeses are made by the addition of varieties of penicillin bacteria. Whilst this might not sound very appetizing, the results are simply delicious.

Last time my wife and I had this, we experimented with a contrasting side dish. Take 10 or 12 small shallots, boil them for ten minutes in lightly salted water, and then roast under the grill for five minutes (to caramelize). You’ll need to do this before preparing the pasta. Then, whilst the pasta and sauce cook, mix a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a couple of olive oil, and a small amount (one tablespoon) of brown sugar together. Pour over the roasted shallots, and heat through in a frying pan for about five minutes, making sure they’re covered in the sticky brown sauce. We liked the contrast of this sweet and sour side dish with the creamy pasta. If you try them together, let me know what you think. If you prefer to play it safe, a salad with some bite, such as this curly asparagus salad with goat’s cheese and Medjool dates, will do ideally.

Sage & Gorgonzola Fettucine
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
This one’s also suitable for vegetarians (but not vegans): it’s another delightfully simple pasta dish
Ingredients
  • 25g butter, cubed
  • 6-8 sage leaves, chopped roughly (set several aside for garnishing)
  • 120g Gorgonzola cheese
  • 80ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon of dry vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon of fine flour
  • 200g fettuccine pasta
  • 50-100g Parmesan cheese shavings
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. As the sauce element is so stunningly simple, start off by getting the pasta going: bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil, and cook the pasta till al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a good cast iron skillet, or heavy-bottomed frying pan. Crumble the Gorgonzola into the pan, and heat for 2 or 3 minutes until the cheese has melted. Add the cream, vermouth and flour, stirring vigourously and continually, to combine into a smooth sauce.
  3. Add the chopped sage, and continue stirring constantly. Let the sauce reach boiling point and thicken a little, then season and remove from the heat. Drain the pasta, and then return it to the pan. Pour over the sauce, and toss or stir it all together, coating all the pasta. Serve immediately, garnished with the last sage leaves.

 

 

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11Apr 12

Risotto alla parmigiana

Risotto alla ParmigianaRisotto alla parmigiana translated to English is Parmesan risotto. This is one of the first dishes I learned to prepare before I got married, and has worked very well for me because my wife just loves it! After a hard day at work, risotto is perfect if you don’t want to cook for too long but always enjoy a tasty meal.

You may also remember my affection for my wife’s mushroom risotto, and you can find the recipe on this same blog. But risotto alla parmigiana is the original Italian classic – the Father of all risottos and is also the basic risotto recipe from which all others have been and are developed, such as this British asparagus and pea risotto.

Ingredients:

  • 35 g butter (1 knob of 20g and 1 knob of 15g)
  • 200g Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • ½ onion (finely chopped)
  • 50ml white wine
  • ½L of hot beef stock
  • 25g grated Parmesan cheese

Method:
1. Put 20g of the butter in a big pan and melt it.
2. Add the chopped onion at medium heat for about 2-4 minutes until soft.
3. Add a spoonful of stock and leave it for 1 minute.
4. Then add the rice and stir until the rice is completely mixed with the butter. Keep stirring for about a minute.
5. Add the wine and keep stirring to evaporate it.
6. Add the stock and turn the heat down to low. You should add the stock at the rate of 2 spoonfuls at a time, and when this is absorbed, add more. Continue doing this for about 10 minutes. Stir continuously.
7. Taste the rice every minute until you feel the rice is tender outside but a bit hard on the inside. Stir regularly so that the risotto doesn’t stick to the bottom part of the pan.
8. If you see that the stock has evaporated, add a bit more, but be careful not to add too much to avoid the risotto being watery.
9. When you feel the rice is tender on the outside but slightly hard in the middle, add the Parmesan cheese and stir for few seconds.
10. Then turn the cooker off, add all the remaining 15g of butter and stir until it is completely melted.
11. Don’t serve immediately – the risotto should rest for a couple of minutes.

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05Apr 12

Penne alla arrabbiata

Penne alla arribbiataFirst of all, I would like to explain this dish’s name. Literally, ‘arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’, and ‘penne’ is a type of pasta. Directly translated, it means ‘angry pasta’! This ‘anger’ comes from the use of chilli peppers in the recipe that makes the dish so hot, furiously filling your tastebuds with spicy goodness. So, when preparing this dish, use as much chilli as you like, depending on how “angry” you want your pasta to be. (For another recipe with hot red chilli peppers, try this bonfire bean chilli.)

Although many may flinch at the thought of how spicy chilli peppers can be, they are really healthy. One benefit is the large amount of Vitamin C it has. Did you know that a chilli pepper has more vitamin C than an orange? And only 50g can provide over half of your recommended daily vitamin C intake. Not too shabby!

This recipe is originally from Rome, and you might like to know that it has many different versions. Some of them actually have nothing to do with the traditional recipe, so, if you can, stick to the following ingredients and you will enjoy the taste of the original Roman arrabbiata.

Ingredients:

  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 dried red chilli peppers (roughly chopped)
  • 300g chopped tomatoes
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 200g penne pasta

 

Method:
1. Chop the garlic and peppers.
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan (medium heat) and add the chopped garlic and chilli into the pan.
3. Sauté for a couple of minutes or until the garlic becomes golden in colour.
4. When the garlic has turned golden, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir for a few seconds.
5. Then season with salt, and stir again for a few seconds.
6. Cook on medium/low heat for about 20-25 minutes to reduce the sauce.
7. A few minutes before the arrabbiata sauce is ready, boil your pasta and when the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it into the pan containing the sauce.
8. Stir for a few seconds to coat the pasta with the sauce. Do this when the pan is still on the heat.
9. Then, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
10. Give a quick stir and serve immediately.

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01Apr 12

Chilli garlic pasta

Chilli Garlic PastaThe name of this chilli garlic pasta more or less tells the whole story. The best part is that you can pick your favourite pasta! If you pick spaghetti, then you’re basically making the Roman classic ‘spaghetti aglio e olio’, which means “spaghetti with garlic and oil”.

The ingredients are so simple, but the flavour is immense. There are several ways you can prepare this dish, but most recipes I’ve read are quite moderate with the garlic. Since Teresa and I like it plenty, and can handle plenty of it, as you’ll have noticed if you’ve been following this blog, we add a bit more than most versions recommend. Make sure to brush your teeth afterwards, though, to fight the intense aroma of the garlic.

A simple hearty meal that often forms the basis of convivial gatherings, it’s a great meal to throw together in the early-morning hours, after a night on the town. If you want to add fish for extra protein, you can try this salmon with chilli lemon linguine recipe that is quite similar.

Ingredients:

  • 400g of your favourite pasta
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 2-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 dried chillis, finely chopped (de-seeded if you want, although we don’t bother)
  • Several sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1 – Cook your pasta in a pan of salted boiling water, as per the instructions of your chosen favourite.

2 – In a pan, heat the oil gently. Then add the garlic and a little salt, and allow the garlic to soften and caramelise slightly, turning a pale gold. Remember; don’t overcook the garlic, as it turns bitter if burnt. Add the chopped chilli and stir to combine. If the pasta’s not ready yet, set aside but keep warm by popping the lid on.

3 – Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the other ingredients, stirring the oil, garlic and chilli so they thoroughly coat the pasta. Add the chopped parsley, a generous twist or three from your pepper mill, and a touch of salt if needed. Mix it all up and serve immediately.

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant

About

Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.