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Mary Ann uses the most popular as well as the lesser-known pastas-from Eggplant and Angel Hair Bundles to ...
Mary Ann uses the most popular as well as the lesser-known pastas-from Eggplant and Angel Hair Bundles to Fregola (a hard-wheat pasta) with Clams, from Linguine with Artichoke Sauce to Pici (a thin spaghetti) with Mint and Walnut Sauce, from Half-Moon Pasta with Potatoes and Ricotta Cheese to Gnocchi and Escarole Soup. There are recipes for any day of the week and for those fancier occasions, to a dinner party (Pettole with Lamb and Champagne Sauce), brunch (Frittelle di Taglierini — a pasta omelet!), or any other special meal. Complete with full-color photographs and step-by-step technique shots, Mangia Pasta! is sure to be your pasta bible.
Perugia is a city of learning with its universities and the regional center of Umbria. One reaches it by winding one's way up a hilltop where a breathtaking view of the Tiber valley awaits. The Etruscan, medieval, Renaissance, and modern elements of the city all meld together to create a fascinating history of architecture, The food is fascinating, too. This is black truffle and spit-roasted porchetta (pork) country, and when it comes to pasta, the Umbrians combine it with what nature provides: an abundance of wild fennel and wild asparagus. This dish made by master teacher Mario Ragni is one of my favorites.
1/3 cup whole shelled natural pistachio nuts
2 cups water
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 pound thin asparagus, washed, woody ends removed, and stalks cut into thirds
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 large clove garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound penne
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
Spread the nuts on an aluminum pie plate and toast them in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, watching carefully so they do not burn. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board, mince them, and set aside.
Bring the water to a boil in a pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the asparagus. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat just until a knife tip is easily inserted into the asparagus, about 3 minutes.Drain and set aside.
In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and press on it with a wooden spoon to release its flavor. When the garlic starts to brown around the edges, remove and discard it. Add the
asparagus and white pepper, raise the heat to high, and pour in the wine, Stir the mixture carefully for about I minute. Reduce the heat to medium. Mix the half and half and heavy cream together and pour it over the asparagus mixture. Cook for 2 minutes; the sauce should be thick and velvety like heavy cream. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Keep the mixture warm while the penne cooks.
Cook the penne according to the directions on page 29. Drain and return to the cooking pot. Pour the asparagus sauce over the penne and stir carefully over low heat. Add the cheese and continue to stir until the cheese melts. Transfer the penne to a serving platter, sprinkle the nuts over the top, and serve immediately.
How about a pizza di pasta? This dish has all the components without the crust or the cheese! Make this rigatoni and clam disk ahead of time for busy nights; it is easy to put together and can be baked on a pizza pan, cookie skeet, or in a casserole disk. Some advice about clams-cooking them over low heat will prevent them from becoming tough.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
Two 10-ounce cans minced clams, drained and liquid reserved
Fine sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
12 ounces #31 rigatoni, cooked according to the directions on page 29
4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and cut into bits
1 1/2 cups fresh or canned plum tomatoes (3 or 4), diced
8 oil-cured black olives, pitted and diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
Brush a 14-inch pizza pan with a rim, a 15 x 11 1/2-inch baking sheet, or a 13 1/2 x 9-inch quart ovenproof casserole with I teaspoon of the olive oil. Set aside.
In a sauté pan, hear 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and slowly cook the garlic in the oil over medium heat just until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove and discard the garlic. Add the clams and the reserved clam juice. Cook for 2 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in the salt, pepper, parsley, and basil and cook slowly until the liquid is reduced by half
Mix the cooked rigatoni with the clam mixture, then spread it evenly over the pizza pan, baking sheet, or casserole. Sprinkle the anchovies over the pasta, then the tomatoes, olives, and oregano. Drizzle the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil over the top. Bake until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve at once.
Tip: An olive pitter (lo snocciolive) makes quick work out of pitting olives and cherries.
Note: Prepare this dish several hours ahead up to the baking point. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Note: If you prefer a "thicker" pizza, use a 12-inch round pan.