Basic Orecchiette Pasta

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This handmade pasta is delicious with the classic broccoli raab sauce, with an uncooked sauce of tomatoes and basil, or in a cream sauce with mussels and mint. The dough comes out best if you work the water in very slowly; don’t try to bring in too much flour at one time. Flour amounts are listed by weight (oz.) and by volume (cups); use either measurement.

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I made mine with chicken and home-made pesto with basil from my garden, with a little cilantro and parmesan on the top.  It was yummy and very easy.  It does take a little time. I usually watch the cooking channel or a funny movie.  You have to happy when you cook.

Ingredients

225 g/ 1 1/2 cup semolina flour

255 g/3/4 cup + I Tbl unbleached all-purpose flour

255 g/1 cup warm water

2 tsp salt

Preparation

1. In a bowl, whisk the flours together well. Mound the flour on a work surface, make a deep well in the center and pour 2 Tbs. of the water in the center. With two fingers, stir in a little flour from the walls of the well. When the water is absorbed and a paste has formed, repeat with more water until you have a soft but not sticky dough.

You can do this in your KitchenAid with the dough hook.

2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s smooth and supple, 7 to 8 minutes. If it crumbles during kneading, wet your hands to moisten the dough slightly. Cut off a golfball-size chunk of dough; cover the rest with plastic wrap. Roll the chunk into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter. With a very sharp knife, slice the cylinder into disks about 1/8 inch thick

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3. Pick up a disk. If it’s squashed from cutting, squeeze it slightly between your thumb and index finger to return it to a circular shape. Put the disk in the palm of one hand and press down on it with the thumb of your other hand. Swivel your hand (not your thumb) twice to thin the center of the ear, leaving the rim a little thicker. If the dough sticks to your thumb, dip your thumb in a little flour as you work. Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you finish the disks, lay them on a clean dishtowel. When you’ve shaped an entire cylinder, sprinkle a little flour over the ears and repeat the process with a new chunk of dough.

4. If you’re not cooking the pasta immediately, spread the rounds out on floured baking sheets and leave them at room temperature at least overnight, or until they’re hard enough that you can’t slice them with a knife. (The time they take to dry depends on humidity and the moisture level in the dough itself.) Once the orecchiette is dry, transfer them to covered jars and store at room temperature.

5. You can as an alternative, freeze them on a baking sheet with parchment and then put in a sealed container once they are frozen.  Cook directly from the freezer – do not thaw.

 

6. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add the orecchiette and simmer until they float to the surface, 2-3 minutes.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes more, until al dente.  Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and serve right away.

 

The recipe I used is from “Pasta by Hand” by Jenn Louis and I totally recommend buying this book!

Basic Orecchiette Pasta

Chicche Verdi Del Nonno

GNOCCHI WITH BROWN BUTTER AND SAGE

 

A regional dish from the Italian province of Parma, these plump spinach gnocchi are excellent sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.  A regional dish from the Italian province of Parma, these plump spinach gnocchi are excellent sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

SERVES 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb. russet potatoes, unpeeled
Kosher salt, to taste
4 oz. spinach
14 cups semolina flour, sifted, plus more
2 eggs, beaten
18 tbsp. unsalted butter
16 leaves fresh sage, minced
14 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan

Instructions

Put potatoes into a 4-qt. pot of salted water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until potatoes are tender, 25 minutes. Drain; let cool. Peel potatoes; pass through medium plate of a food mill into a bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and 1 tbsp. of water; cook until wilted. Press on spinach in a sieve to extract liquid. Finely chop spinach; stir together with potatoes and semolina and form a well in the center.
Add eggs and salt and, using a fork, beat eggs into potato mixture.
Transfer dough to a work surface dusted with semolina; knead to combine.
Divide the dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a 1⁄2″-thick rope. Cut ropes into 1⁄2″-wide pieces; transfer to a semolina-dusted sheet tray.
Melt 10 tbsp. butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling, until butter browns, about 6 minutes.
Add sage and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat; set aside.
Working in 4 batches, add 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. oil to a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add dough pieces and cook, flipping once, until golden brown, 3–4 minutes.
Transfer to a baking sheet.
Wipe out the skillet and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and dough pieces.
Toss dumplings and brown butter sauce in the skillet until hot.
Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
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Here is the photo of my version.  Served with a lovely red wine!
Would definitely make for friends.
I made the gnocchi about three in the afternoon, and just put them all together right before dinner.
Yummy~
Chicche Verdi Del Nonno

A Local’s Guide to Eating in Rome

The Tasting Table has some of the best articles.  Now I just need to go back to Italy again.  Bypass the tourist traps and get the inside track on the Eternal City’s best trattorias, pizza spots, and gelato joints

Where to Eat in Rome like a Local

Rome is a city of classic fare and ancient flavors, of cacio e pepe and carbonara, artichokes and wild greens, fire-crisped pizzas and silky gelato—and, of course, divine wine. But Rome is also a city of tourists, which means that an unforgettable meal isn’t always guaranteed in the Eternal City.

“Four million Romans live in Rome, while tourists crowd in the center,” says Count Giovanni Bonmartini Fini, a Roman local and winemaker with a 500-year family history making and exporting Italian Pinot Grigio. “For the best food experiences, get out of the center and experience what we eat in our many neighborhoods.”

Rome is a sprawling tangle of ever-expanding neighborhoods, but despite its growth, there’s still a simple, old-world mentality when it comes to culinary culture.

“Our foundation is [we eat] what’s in season, what’s nearby. We’ve never left that,” Bonmartini Fini says. He’s a locavore without trying; seasonality dictates dinner. “People talk about the local food movement, and that’s [a mindset] that has always been here. When it’s artichoke season, everyone is eating artichoke. Pizza with artichoke, salad with artichoke, pasta with artichoke, meat with artichoke.”

Go to one of Rome’s famed open-air markets, and you can tell the time of year by what’s in stock. “My absolute favorite market is one of the ugliest, but it has incredible options: Il Mercato di Via Riano near Ponte Milvio [a 2,000-year-old Roman pedestrian bridge]. Some of my favorite stands are the fresh seafood caught by brothers and wild mushrooms harvested by a little old lady,” Bonmartini Fini says.

Bonmartini Fini insists on being properly caffeinated before food shopping—and what Italian would disagree? He’s devoted to his neighborhood espresso bar in the leafy residential area of Parioli. “Il Cigno is a five-minute walk from my home and run by my friends. It has the best macchiato and pastries. My absolute favorites are the cornetto integrale con miele, a whole-wheat, honey-filled croissant, or the decadently amazing cornetto alle mandorle, a marzipan-filled croissant.”

Besides mainlining shots of espresso (always drunk standing up at the counter), Romans stay hydrated via the city’s many ice-cold, spring-fresh drinking fountains nicknamed nasoni, or “big noses.”

But back to stuffing our faces: There’s always an Italianate locality to Rome’s dining-out culture: “When we go out to dinner in Rome, it’s not like, ‘Are we going to get Japanese, Indian, Chinese?’ No. The question is: ‘Are we going to eat Tuscan, Sardinian, Piedmontese, Umbrian, Roman?'” Bonmartini Fini says.

More often than not, the answer is Roman. Some of the very best Cucina Romana is casual. For the city’s famous thin-crust pizzas, Bonmartini Fini lets his two teenage boys choose: “Al Gallo Rosso is packed with Roman teens and has a paper-thin crust, wood-oven pizzas. You can’t spend more than 15 bucks there.

“If my wife, Scilla, decides, it’s La Sagrestia, located on the side of the Pantheon, a non-touristy pick in a tourist-dominated area.”

For special occasions, the choice is usually seafood, since the fish is shockingly fresh—and even more shockingly expensive. (It’s often charged by weight at a restaurant.) “Scilla and I love to celebrate down the street from our home at Ai Piani, a wonderful Sardinian fish restaurant.”

There are plenty of spots for native dishes like Rome’s classic carbonara, which gets its velvety texture from farm-fresh, raw egg yolks cooked into the still-hot pasta. (Unlike in America, there’s no cream in sight.) “If you ask 10 Romans where to get the best carbonara, you will get 10 different answers. The dish is always made with just eggs and bacon, but every carbonara is different because we have six different ways of saying ‘bacon’ in Italian.

“My favorite is always Trattoria Perilli in Testaccio,” Bonmartini Fini says. Set in a working-class neighborhood, the often-packed Perilli’s is where the owner—a gentleman well into his 90s—can still be found bringing out dishes of carbonara and bottles of wine. Most of the wine Bonmartini Fini makes under his Barone Fini brand is exported to the U.S., but Perilli’s serves Barone Fini Valdadige Pinot Grigio alongside its legendary rigatoni alla carbonara.

Since 1497, the Bonmartini Fini family has been producing Pinot Grigio high in the Italian Alps, where the grapes grow natively and superiorly. Because of this and the naturalist cultivation methods, Barone Fini Pinot Grigio has a DOC designation, a stamp of integrity and authenticity stipulated by the Italian government. DOC regulations preserve the quality of traditional gastronomic products all across Italy “It’s not an opinion; this is a government distinction,” Bonmartini Fini explains.

In Rome, wine is drunk to complement food—its intention isn’t to dominate the meal, but instead to improve it. Coupling heavy pasta with a refreshingly acidic grape varietal is one move you’ll see replicated night after night in Rome. “You need acid and crispness to cut and clean your palate. And the Pinot Grigios from this area [Trentino-Alto Adige]—even though they’re naturally balanced with minerality—they still have the strength to clean your palate.”

Another debate among Romans is the superlative gelato shop. “Every Roman has their own version of the best. The most famous is Giolitti, which is over a hundred years old.” This less-than-secret, old-world gelateria is worth the hype with an array of flavors including Italian wedding cake, Champagne, and stracciatella (a more serious version of chocolate chip). Bonmartini Fini has his own trick: “I always get three different chocolates on a cone.”

A dinner out in Rome is bookended by a classic aperitivo and digestivo. For an aperitivo, Bonmartini Fini drinks a spritz or a glass of bubbly Franciacorta (a sparkling wine from Italy’s Lake District) at the Hotel Eden’s rooftop bar (“the best view of Rome”) or, if he’s in the mood for something buzzy, at Ciampini in Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina. As for a post-dinner digestivo, he turns to a bittersweet amaro, a dark, herbal liqueur that’s increasingly popular stateside.
The one thing Bonmartini Fini can’t help you within Rome? Wine bars. “Listen, I make my own wine, so I’m not so good at going to enotecas.”

Fair enough.

A Local’s Guide to Eating in Rome

Spring Pasta Recipes

Pasta dinners featuring spring’s all-star vegetables: asparagus, artichokes, peas, and more from Fine Cooking with links to the recipes.  I can’t wait to try these and I think you will want to too!

Spring Vegetable Ragout with Fresh Pasta

This quick pasta is spring incarnate: fresh baby vegetables and their tender shoots, delicate pasta, and a light, brothy sauce.

 

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Bucatini with Peas, Wild Mushrooms, and Creamy Tarragon Sauce

Morel mushrooms are a sure sign of spring. There’s no substitute for their nutty flavor and delicate, crisp texture. If you can’t find them fresh, look for dried morels.

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Cavatelli with Shrimp and Asparagus

Dressed in garlicky olive oil and lemon, shrimp and crisp-tender asparagus tossed with cavatelli make a delightful, fresh main course.

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Asparagus Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce

No time to make homemade pasta? No problem. Wonton wrappers are a quick alternative for ravioli. The rich brown butter, bright lemon zest, and crunchy almond garnish perfectly complement the creamy asparagus filling.

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Pappardelle with Spring Vegetables

Bright spring vegetables, a tangy vinaigrette, and fresh microgreens give this vibrant pasta dish delicious layers of flavor and texture.

  • Soft-Shell Crab Spaghetti with Spinach and Peas

    New York Times columnist Mark Bittman came up with this brilliant method of cooking soft shells low and slow so they release all their delicious juice, creating a briny-sweet sauce for cooked pasta. This is my take, using a little less pasta and adding vegetables, chives, and a touch of butter.


Fresh Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas & Mint

This easy weeknight recipe is a complete one-dish meal. Cooking the pasta, peas, and asparagus together is efficient, and adding goat cheese at the end creates a creamy sauce.

Fettuccine Primavera

This quintessential springtime pasta includes lots and lots of fresh herbs, as well as leafy greens. The specific vegetables and herbs used are up to you; choose what looks best at the market.

Asparagus Carbonara

Give traditional pasta carbonara a springtime makeover with the addition of tender asparagus.

Fettuccine with Artichokes, Hazelnuts & Cream

Artichokes love cream, and the hazelnuts here serve to amplify their natural nutty tones. This is the perfect dish for when you want a spring pasta, but you also want something a touch rich for company or a special occasion.

Spaghetti with Green Garlic & Olive Oil

In this riff on the classic spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and olive oil), green garlic replaces the traditional pungent cloves and lends a more delicate garlic flavor.

Orecchiette with Ham & Peas in Cheese Sauce

Leeks pair well with spring ingredients like spinach and peas. The heat from the sausage balances the vegetables’ sweetness.

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Quick Marinated Vegetables and Pasta

Ribbony Mafalda pasta captures briny ricotta salata, tangy vegetables, and nutty roasted chickpeas for great flavors in every bite.

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BLT Pasta with Gremolata

This one is perfect when spring verges on summer, featuring crisp bacon, juicy tomatoes, and peppery arugula. Delicious and adaptable, this basic idea can work with what you have on hand: spinach and fettuccine, say, instead of arugula and fusilli

 

Spring Pasta Recipes