This is a quick and easy meal. I remember when my mother first made it. I unexpectedly came home with a friend at lunch time. This is what she fed us, made with a few things she happened to have on hand. A delicious cream sauce with only four ingredients. You really don’t need anything more, but I suppose that if you want to complicate it you can add garlic or onions or some other spices. What I like about cooking with sausage meat is that the butcher does all the work – grinding and spicing.
Put up a pot of water for the pasta. Fry the sausage meat in olive oil. You don’t need any garlic, onions or salt & pepper. The spice from the sausage is enough. When it’s lightly browned add a cup of the pasta water and the ricotta and blend. Throw in a good handful of chopped basil and stir. My mother sometimes used peas instead of basil.
When the pasta is almost done add it to the sauce and stir to coat it. If it’s too dry add a little more pasta water. Serve it with some freshly chopped basil. See, I told you it was quick and easy.
This is quick, easy, inexpensive and nutritious, vegan too if you don’t use cheese. Put a pot of water on the stove and by the time the pasta is done, you’ll be ready to eat.
Slice the mushrooms as thinly as possible. Use a mandolin if you have one. Put them in a large serving bowl. Grate the zest of the lemon (no pith) and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Either use a press or very finely chop the garlic and add it to the mushrooms. Mix thoroughly and be sure all of the mushrooms are coated with lemon juice. Add the parsley, salt, black and red pepper and oil and mix again. Let the mushroom mixture sit while you make the pasta or for at least 15 minutes.
You got it, the mushrooms will not be cooked. The salt and acid in the lemon juice are all they’ll need, sort of like ceviche.
When the spaghetti is done to your taste, drain it and add it to the serving bowl with the mushroom mixture, retaining some of the cooking water. Mix well and if it’s to dry add some of the reserved cooking water. Serve with the parmigiana.
Here’s another one Grandma made for my Calabrese grandfather – Calabrese Pork Ragu. It doesn’t take too long to prepare but there’s three hours of simmering so plan ahead. It’s so thick and meaty you can almost eat it as a stew without the pasta.
Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat and add the sausage. Break it up and brown it. Add the pork, mix and brown it.
This is a Sicilian recipe that my Aunt Lena, who married a Sicilian, used to make. She called it simply “rigatoni with eggplant.” I didn’t learn that it was formally known as “Pasta alla Norma” until I was an adult. It was named for the heroine in Bellini’s Norma.
* Ricotta salata comes in 2 types – fresh for eating and dry for grating. If you can’t get it, use parmigiana.
Slice the eggplant into about 1/2-inch rounds (don’t peel it). Salt and drain it. Cook it over medium-high heat in a pot, in olive oil adding more oil as needed. Do it in batches so it doesn’t crowd. Cook it until it’s browned and soft. Don’t worry about a few burnt edges – that adds flavor. Move it to a plate and don’t drain it or put it on paper towels.
Using the same pot the eggplant was cooked in, add some oil and on medium heat fry garlic with salt, black pepper and red pepper. After a few minutes when the garlic begins to color, add the tomatoes. Cook for about 20-25 minutes on medium. Taste for seasoning.
Cook the pasta until almost done. Cut the eggplant into approximately 1-inch pieces (they’ll be irregularly shaped and that’s OK) and add to the tomato sauce.
Gently stir it in. Drain the almost cooked pasta (saving a cup of pasta water in case the sauce is too dry) and toss it with the sauce. Again, gently, so the eggplant doesn’t break up too much. Serve with freshly grated ricotta salada.
My Salernitano grandmother used to make this for my Calabrese grandfather. I don’t really know if this was something that was common in Calabria or simply a dish that he liked. When my mother made it, she said we were having Calabrese pasta and that’s what I still call it.
I list precise measurments for ingredients but it’s not written in stone. If you like olives, add more. If you don’t like capers, use less. You get the idea.
This is a very quick sauce so put up the pasta water before you start anything else.
Lightly sauté the anchovies, olives, capers and garlic in olive oil.
When the anchovies dissolve and the garlic begins to turn golden, add the tuna, tomatoes, pepper and oregano. Taste for seasoning and let it simmer for no more than 8-10 minutes to keep a fresh taste.
Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve with grated cheese (no cheese if you use the tuna).
Some people say Amatriciana can only be made with guanciale and served over bucatini pasta. Sometimes I make it with guanciale, sometimes with pancetta and this time I used porcetta. And I never serve it with bucatini. I find bucatini unmanageable. It has a mind of its own when you twirl it on your fork and it inevitably spots your shirt with sauce. So, I’m using short fusilli.
Pasta All ‘Amatriciana with Veal
Drain a can of plum tomatoes and cut them length-wise into ½ in. strips. Save the liquid from the can. In a frying pan, sauté porcetta until brown and crisp and remove. Brown the veal in the porcetta fat and remove it.
Lightly sauté the sliced onions in oil and add the chopped garlic in a pot. Don’t brown. Add salt, black pepper and red pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes to the onions in the pot.
Don’t add the tomato liquid until the tomatoes fry for a bit. Then add the liquid, porcetta and veal to the pot. Deglaze (the Le Fondpost tells you all about deglazing ) the pan that you browned the porcetta and veal in with ½ cup each of water and red wine and add to the sauce in the pot. Stir it and bring it to a boil. Taste for seasoning. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Now’s the time to make the pasta. Cook it until almost done. Remove the veal from the sauce and stir in the pasta to finish cooking it in the sauce. Serve with grated cheese, maybe Pecorino Romano if you have it. Amatriciana should have a little heat to it so add lots of black or red pepper.
This is a quick one so start by putting about 4 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons of salt up to boil.
Heat the oil and add garlic. Simmer on low heat until very lightly browned. Add the dried red peppers* and anchovies. Stir until the anchovies are dissolved. Add the cherry tomatoes and salt and black pepper.
Simmer until the tomatoes release their juices and soften. It should be ready when pasta is done. Add some of the pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
*If you don’t have dried red peppersand don’t have time to make them, use some standard red pepper flakes.
A simplecucina povera recipe – pasta and cauliflower – dressed up with pancetta, breadcrumbs, walnuts and currents. A friend got me this recipe from his grandmother. She was born in Trapani so I’m assuming that’s where this recipe originated. Her instructions were ‘some’ of this, ‘enough’ of that and ‘cook it until it’s done.’ I tried it a few times and this is what I came up with. (Bacon is not a substitute for pancetta. It’s too smokey. If you don’t have pancetta, use some diced pork or no meat at all.)
Soak the currents in warm water for 15 minutes. Sauté pancetta until it starts to brown then add breadcrumbs. Mix and brown crumbs, then add walnuts and drained currents. Mix and simmer for a few minutes, then remove and wipe out pan.
Add oil to pan and put in cauliflower, salt and pepper, on medium heat. Cook until lightly browned on all sides and softened.
In a pot, sauté onion in oil, salt and pepper. When the onion is softened and transparent, add the stock. When it comes to a boil add the pasta and when it’s almost done add the cauliflower. Deglaze the cauliflower pan with the wine (or water) and add that to the pot. Stir and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley and pancetta-bread crumb mix and stir. It’s ready to serve.
High quality imported tuna packed in olive works well with these sauces. Pick a brand that has no additional ingredients. Remember, this is seafood, so please, no cheese.
Tuna Tomato Sauce
Put the pasta water up to boil. Sauté the 1st 6 ingredients and then deglaze the pan with wine. Stir and add the tuna and tomatoes and simmer. Don’t overcook. Add the scallions to the sauce and when the pasta is almost done, add it to the sauce to finish cooking.
Pasta Con Tonno e Piselli
Sweat onion in oil. Add peas and 1 cup water, season with S&P. Simmer for 15 min and add 1 jar imported tuna (8oz). Add chopped parsley and serve with small pasta.