Pasta, such a simple food, comes in a multiplicity of shapes and choices. And it's easy to make at home. I have been working with KitchenAid hardware. Rumors say that the premier pasta maker is made by Arcobaleno. For now, the KitchenAid is working. These are a couple dishes I made recently.
I have made orecchiette previously, using grano arso, albeit a flour mix prepared for pizza dough. Results were okay. This time I made my own grano arso, toasting fine durum (semola rimacinata) flour. Shaping these little ears of pasta are a labor of love. It takes time. But use your fingers or the flat edge of a knife. It works and is worth it!
Below is my latest batch, and a video lesson from Sabino Spadaccino, an Italian food blogger originally from Puglia, now living in Locarno.
Agnolotti-Technically these square shaped Piedmontese pasta are usually filled with meat or vegetable stuffing, typically served in a broth, or with cheese and sage. Ricotta and spinach would be considered ravioli, but I have a strange affinity to things from Piedmonte, like this pasta and krumiri biscotti? (that's for another post!). In any case, these hand cut stuffed pillows were just delicious with a simple tomato sauce, topped with parmigiano Reggiano and basil.
Perhaps it's no irony that the dish whose name recalls the "oldest profession in the world" is also among the most aromatic and nuanced, its flavors rooted in sea and earth. Below is my hommage to those ladies who made this power packed delicacy of basic ingredients. Oh, the power of love on a plate. Grazie signore.
Fregola is a durum pasta from Sardinia, closely related in shape and texture to moghrabieh and used like cous-cous as an anchor within larger dishes or salads. Fregola is toasted, with a toothy bite, and goes especially well with seafood such as a recent paella-like dish I made from shellfish, garden herbs, and tomatoes. Really easy to cook, and served hot,cold, with vegetables or protiens, it's a great addition to the pantry.
Served with Trapanese pesto, or more typically a ragu, for my topping I started with Farmers Market tomatoes and corn. And to accent the dough's cinnamon-like flavor, I added a touch of ancho harissa. Mangia!
My first lessons in making potato gnocchi were with my brother. He followed a formula that I think was from Auguste Escoffier. Ever since, I've loved the puffy dumpling(really a pasta) that marries well with sauce and garnishes, whether tomato sauce or classic sage and brown butter. Recently I decided to do a batch with butternut squash as a replacement for potatoes. To garnish, I browned butter with nutmeg, ginger and chili, then added a wilted radicchio, roasted red pepper and arugula as a vehicle for a grilled fish.
I love pasta. Recently tried a pasta dish known as ricotta cavatelli with broccoli pesto and salami. It sounded appetizing, but ended up a disappointment. It was just standard dry cavatelli, with a tasteless green emulsion of broccoli topped with cold ricotta and chunks of salami. Yikes! Sometimes anger can work in one's favor. This time it led me to whip up a batch of ricotta cavatelli dough. Eliminating the broccoli pesto, I charred some romanesco cauliflower, added some sliced garlic, a bit of tomato product with water from the pasta, and finally wonderful salami from my butcher. It was so much better. And the cavatelli were fresh and made of ricotta!
As a by-product to trying grano arso in bread, I also used it in orecchiette, the ear shaped semolina and water pasta. Initially I tried shaping with my thumb. That's a bit time consuming. I found it faster to use a knife. It consists of a basic scrape across the surface, then inverting the dough to get the classic ear shaped pasta.