250 True Italian Pasta Dishes: Easy and Authentic Recipes


Outstanding recipes from the owner/chef of Quartino, one of Chicago's finest restaurants.

For hundreds of years, pasta dishes have been the family favorites that home cooks rely on regularly. The purpose of this book is to provide key instructions, skills and great recipes for authentic Italian pasta dishes. These easy-to-prepare recipes range from old favorites to personal innovations, each carefully tested by the well known Chef John Coletta....

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Outstanding recipes from the owner/chef of Quartino, one of Chicago's finest restaurants.

For hundreds of years, pasta dishes have been the family favorites that home cooks rely on regularly. The purpose of this book is to provide key instructions, skills and great recipes for authentic Italian pasta dishes. These easy-to-prepare recipes range from old favorites to personal innovations, each carefully tested by the well known Chef John Coletta.

Organized in chapters such as Pasta Express, Meatless Pasta, Poultry and Meat Sauces, Seafood, Leftover Pasta, Pasta Salads, Pasta for Kids, Fresh Pasta, Baked Pasta, Filled Pasta and Pasta Desserts, Coletta provides easy access to his traditional and new recipes. Here is just a small sampling:

  • Penne with prosciutto and asparagus
  • Spaghettini with tomatoes and basil
  • Linguine with salmon and tomato sauce
  • Leftover oven-browned ziti with leeks and onions
  • Radiatori salad with carrots and mint
  • Rigatoni with turkey and fennel
  • Tagliolini with fava beans
  • Four cheeses filling
  • Apricot ravioli with rosemary.

Packed with professional tips and techniques, 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes presents pasta as it was meant to be prepared and enjoyed.

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Editorial Reviews

2009 Top 5 Cookbook by Chicagoans/Chicago Restaurateurs
Chicago Reader - Mike Sula
Pasta books are a dime a dozen but that's no reason to ignore this contribution from Quartino chef John Coletta, who acknowledges that pasta is one of the few things home cooks can make better than most restaurants.
PMQ Pizza Magazine - Nancy Ross Ryan
Choletta and Ryan have included an abundance of recipes for many different kinds of pasta--fresh and dried, festive and every day. Most are easy to make and won't take much time to prepare, while others are more complex and time-consuming, suitable for special occasions.
Time Out Chicago - David Tamarkin and Julia Kramer
This book by Quartino's chef is packed with enough knowledge, tip-heavy pasta recipes to keep an Italian grandmother busy for years.
Chicago Sun-Times - Janet Rausa Fuller
[This] is an impressive collection of recipes, knowledge and advice from Coletta, who lets the pasta and ingredients speak for themselves at his River North restaurant. The book covers it all: rich, meaty dishes, filled pasta, new school salads, making pasta from scratch and pasta desserts. Coletta also includes a chapter on meatless pasta--after all, he notes, Italians have cooked this way for generations--and even one on using leftovers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778802211
  • Publisher: Rose, Robert Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,368,406
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John Coletta is the owner and chef of Quartino, a renowned neighborhood restaurant and wine bar in downtown Chicago that offers authentic regional Italian food.

Nancy Ross Ryan is a food journalist.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents


All About Pasta
Pasta Express: By the Time the Water Boils
Meatless Pasta: Rich Flavors from Poor Kitchens
Pasta with Poultry and Meat: Sauces with Substance
Pasta with Seafood: Something Special
Makeovers: Using Leftovers and Pasta
Pasta Salads: Contemporary Concoctions
Pasta for Kids: Cooking for Conservative Palates
Making Fresh Pasta
Simple Luxury: Fresh Pasta Tossed in Sauce
Baked Pastas: Make Today, Bake Tomorrow
Filled Pastas: Gift-Wrapped
Gnocchi, Polenta and Crespelle: Cooking Cousins
Dessert Pastas: For the Sweet Tooth


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Why did I write this book? Not because the world needs another cookbook, much less another Italian cookbook. I wrote it because I want to inspire you to begin cooking one of the finest forms of Italian gastronomy: pasta.

Home cooks are often challenged and frustrated by their inability to prepare high-quality restaurant food in their own kitchens — perhaps not realizing that cooking that kind of food usually demands a large staff, specialized equipment and purveyors who deliver a world of ingredients to the door. However, there are some things you can make at home and produce better results than most restaurants. Pasta is one of those dishes.

The pasta that my mother and father cooked for me when I was growing up in New York City, as a first-generation son of Italian immigrants, and the pasta I have eaten in Italy bears little resemblance to pasta served in most restaurants in America. My Italian friends, who prepare and enjoy pasta at home, refuse to eat it in restaurants simply because it is not as good as what they make themselves. In part, logistics are to blame. Restaurant customers don't want to wait for pasta to be freshly cooked for them, so most restaurants precook the pasta, then reheat it by dipping it in hot water. That means pasta rarely arrives at the table properly cooked. Not only are the sauces often overcooked and too salty, there is usually too much of them. Pasta should be lightly coated with sauce rather than drowning in it. And the ingredients are all too often mediocre. For all those reasons, I strongly believe that pasta is best made at home.

The sole purpose of this book is to give you, the home cook, all the skills you need to produce delicious pasta for yourself, your family and your friends. I've also included an abundance of recipes for many different kinds of pasta — fresh and dried, festive and everyday. Most are very easy to make and don't take much time, but some are more complex and time-consuming, suitable for special occasions.

Italy's history makes it very difficult to write about "Italian" food because, until 1861, when Italy became unified, the country was a collection of 20 separate kingdoms ruled by a disparate group of foreign invaders. (If you want to know more about this subject, you might enjoy reading Italian Cuisine: A Cultural History, by Alberto Capatti and Massimo Montanari, Columbia University Press, 2003.) These occupiers brought their own food traditions with them, which is why you'll find marzipan (originally from Persia) in Sicily, crespelle (which resemble French crepes) in Tuscany, and sauerkraut soup in Trentino. And yet, despite this foreign domination, a strong internal culinary regionalism and rivalry emerged in Italy. Each of the regions developed its own ingredients and cooking styles. For centuries recipes were passed on from mother to daughter and from father to son, and prepared only in the immediate area because many of the ingredients were not available elsewhere. Interestingly, this practical reality also influenced social attitudes. For instance, at the turn of the twentieth century, if a Tuscan man married a woman from Alto-Adige it was frowned upon as a "mixed marriage."

While the recipes reflect the regionality of Italian cooking, they also speak to simplicity, approachability, our lifestyles and our palates. Most are simple and quick. A few of the sauces, such as Bolognese and some of the other ragùs and sugos, are time-consuming because they take a long time to cook, but they are not complicated to assemble. I have kept these recipes to a minimum.

The ingredients called for are readily available. Yes, anyone can get white truffles from Alba, bottarga (cured fish roe) from Sardinia, and buffalo burrata from Apulia. But because many regional Italian foods are intended to be consumed in season and within their region, by the time they have been transported you will likely find yourself overpaying for products past their

prime. I believe you should use the freshest seasonal ingredients you can find, locally grown if possible, and my recipes are written to accommodate this.

At the end of the day, a dish of pasta is a simple, affordable pleasure that is easy to execute in the home kitchen. It's informal and meant to be shared — brought to the table in a big bowl or on a platter, to be served by the host or presented so that everyone can help themselves.

I grew up eating Italian pasta as it was meant to be prepared and enjoyed. I hope that with this cookbook I can pass on that experience so that you too can fully appreciate this delicious food. Enjoy!

John Coletta

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