Like most Italians growing up Sunday's meant sauce ( or gravy ) on the stove for hours with lots and lots of meatballs, sausages, and braciole. For those fortunate, this tradition still lives on.
Last year in my culinary arts class, students were taught how to prepare three quick classic Italian pasta dishes, while learning the lore of each of their origins. Each recipe is extremely simple with very few ingredients, and literally can be made in less than 30 minutes. Everyone had a hard time deciding which was their favorite! Try these recipes and you be the judge!
This is a tasty, simple and fast recipe that you can make anytime you crave for a spicy pasta dish. The amatriciana is a mouthwatering sauce for pasta, made with guanciale (or pancetta), tomatoes, onions and Pecorino Romano cheese. Everything is seasoned with chili pepper.
The name of this delicious recipe comes from Amatrice, a town at the center of the Apennines ( in the province of Rieti). The recipe has a tradition that dates back to when the shepherds were the primary inhabitants and Amatrice was still part of Abruzzo and spaghetti was used instead of bucatini, a type of long pasta, very similar to large hollow spaghetti.This recipe was then acquired by the Romans who replaced spaghetti with bucatini, common to their culinary tradition, added onion. Now it is a must if you visit Rome!
I lb. Bucatini Pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil (Extra Virgin)
¾ cup diced Guanciale or Pancetta
1 medium onion, finely chopped
12 oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried chilli pepper Sea salt
4 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1. In a heated pan place sliced onions, with some of the pasta water and let onions cook until water has evaporated. Then add olive oil.
In a separate pan, heat oil over medium heat, add guanciale or pancetta and fry until fat has melted and meat is crisp. Stir frequently.
2. Combine onion and pancetta and saute for about 7-8 minutes. Add chilli pepper, cook for a minute and then the tomato and cook for additional 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile bring to a boil 3 liters of salted water, add the bucatini and cook until al dente for approx. 10 minutes (according to the instructions on the pasta package). Before draining the pasta, reserve about 3 tablespoons of cooking water.
Drain pasta and pour into the warm sauce, add the water.
Turn off heat and add the Pecorino Roman and toss, Serve immediately.
PASTA ALLA NORMA
A classic dish of Sicily. The lore of its origin goes back to a 19th-century composer, Vincenzo Bellini. He was born in Catania, Italy, and was an artist of great renown who composed many operas. One of his most famous was called "Norma." Supposedly a chef from Catania named his creative pasta dish after the opera.
1 ½ pounds eggplant
Olive oil as needed (at least 1/2 cup)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 or 4 dried chiles
1 ½ pounds tomatoes, chopped (canned are fine; about 1 can)1
1 lb Rigatoni or Penne
½ cup chopped basil
½ cup grated ricotta salata
In a saute pan add a little olive oil and saute diced eggplant. Lightly salt and continue to cook'
Remove from pan and saute garlic in olive oil until golden brown and fragrant. Return eggplant to pan and saute for another 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes and continue cooking for about 7 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat
Sprinkle with Fresh chopped basil and ricotta salata cheese, toss and serve immediately.
CACIO e PEPE
A pasta dish from modern Roman cuisine. "Cacio e pepe" means "cheese and pepper" in several central Italian dialects. As the name suggests, the ingredients of the dish are very simple: black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and spaghetti. This minimalist recipe is like a stripped-down Italian mac and cheese.
1 lb spaghetti
5 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
3/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet add a generous amount of Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and stire to create a creamy texture.
Add pasta to cheese mixture and toss (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls top off with more Pecorino if desired and serve immediately.