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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with pasta dish

17Jun 12

Basil and Ricotta Pasta

Basil and Ricotta PastaSometimes you’ve just got no time. For times like that, there’s ‘pasta prestissimo’. Prestissimo is actually a term used in music to indicate ‘play as fast as possible’. With that in mind, here is a no-nonsense, time-saving pasta recipe for basil and ricott pasta – perfect for the modern Italian chef in a hurry. (For another fast Italian recipe, try this pasta with egg yolks and walnuts.)

Make sure you have some quick-cooking pasta handy! The recipe basically takes as long as the pasta requires. I used spaghetti, but you can help it cook faster by breaking it in half before tossing it into the boiling water.

Ingredients:

  • 200g of quick-cooking pasta, penne or fusilli are ideal for this recipe
  • A bottle of olive oil (don’t worry, we’re not using all of it!)
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes
  • A handful of basil leaves
  • 150g ricotta cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1 – Boil a half-full kettle and pour the water into a pan that’s on high with an inch or so of water already in the bottom, a pinch of salt in it, and the lid on. (i.e. get that water boiling as quickly as humanly possible!) Once boiling, toss in your pasta.

2 – While the pasta cooks, roughly tear up the basil by hand and crumble your ricotta into nice lumpy chunks. Chop the tomatoes as well.

3 – When your pasta’s cooked, drain it, reserving a small cup or glass full of the cooking liquid. Serve the pasta into two slightly-warmed bowls, and sprinkle over the basil, tomatoes and ricotta. With your thumb over the opening of the olive oil bottle, splash the pasta mix generously with olive oil, along with one or two spoonfuls of the reserved pasta water. Don’t use too much, as you still want a sensuously unctuous plate of pasta, even without going to the trouble of making a sauce. Mix it all together.

4. Season with salt and pepper and tuck in!

If you’ve got a jar or bottle of pitted black olives in brine handy, and can find the time to chop a few up and sprinkle them over, they make a tasty and simple addition!

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02May 12

Sprout, Chestnut and Thyme Tagliatelle

Sprout_Chestnut_and_Thyme_TagliatelleThis one’s a little more unusual, mainly due to the sprouts. It’s a vegetarian pasta dish, but it packs a very full-flavour punch! We had a large crop of Brussel sprouts on our allotment last autumn, and decided to try them in place of meat in one of our favourite dishes. We think they work a treat: the sprouts have a really strong flavour (and aroma), as do the chestnuts. We had to lessen the amount of thyme from the meat version of this dish, as otherwise there’s simply too much flavour! Give it a try and tell us what you think.

Ingredients

  • 25g butter
  • 2 small shallots, chopped roughly
  • 150g Brussel sprouts: peel and cut an ‘x’ in the top
  • 50-75g vacuum-packed ready-to-cook chestnuts, chopped into halves
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped thyme
  • small glass dry white wine
  • 150ml double cream
  • 200g tagliatelle
  • salt and pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese

Method

1 – Before you get the whole meal started, part-cook the Brussel sprouts: about 10 mins in very lightly salted boiling water should be enough, but it depends on the size of the sprouts. Then chop them up roughly, so that the sprout pieces are just a bit larger than the chopped chestnuts.

2 – Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan, add the shallots and fry for 2 mins. Add the sprouts, chestnuts and thyme, cooking for 1 or 2 minutes (a little colour/caramelisation looks nice and adds flavour). Add the white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes to reduce. Add the cream and simmer gently for a couple of minutes to reduce further. Now is a good time for seasoning, but be careful, these ingredients already have a lot of powerful flavour!

3 – Whilst the main ingredients are cooking, start the pasta: bring sufficient lightly salted water to the boil, and cook your tagliatelle till al dente. Drain the pasta, and combine with the sauce. Check the seasoning and serve, adding grated parmesan. This dish is great with dry peppery white wine, like a Gruner Veltliner, or Gewurtztraminer.

Notes: if you don’t like sprouts, and I know quite a lot of people don’t, then instead use sausages: using Italian salciccia you can either cut them lengthways, and then roughly chop them up, or just cut slice them transversely, but a bit thinner.

Serves 2

Time: 30 mins – about 10 mins prep & 20 mins cooking

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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.