Roma Sparita

When we were in Rome this summer, we traipsed around with a crumpled piece of paper bearing the recommendations of culinary warrior Anthony Bourdain. We were not led astray. Perhaps the most memorable of these food adventures was our trip to Trastevere’s Roma Sparita, where we became appropriately obsessed with the cacio e pepe (in a BOWL MADE OF CHEESE). When in Rome…for real, people, you’ve got to go to this place and try this dish.

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The inspiration. Sublime.

Had to deal with an emergency cacio e pepe craving yesterday and, fortunately, this recipe satisfied it. Man, that is a good freaking dish! I know many of the recipes on this site tend toward the long and complicated. This one is pretty quick and easy. I recommend watching the video, too.

If you want to compare cacio e pepes, I’ve also made the Barefoot Contessa version, Pasta with Pecorino and Pepper. A blind taste test might be in order. (Funny to look back and see my reference to Roma Sparita in that post. We sure are different people now that we’ve eaten the real thing.)

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The reality. Super tasty.

Cacio e Pepe (Bon Appétit)

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino

Preparation

  • Video: Click here to watch Del Posto’s Mark Ladner make cacio e pepe

     

  • 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, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
  • Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.
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Street pasta

Another whack at one of the easier Street Food recipes. Loving this book. Excited to tackle some more adventurous recipes next. This one was simple and delicious. Beans in pasta? Yes!

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Ditalini Pasta with Roman Broccoli, White Beans, and Pecorino (Susan Feniger, Street Food)

  • 1 cup dried white beans
  • 2 ribs celery, peeled and cut into thirds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound broccoli rabe
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for tossing
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups ditalini pasta, or any small pasta
  • 1 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

1. In a large saucepan set over high heat, combine the beans, celery, carrot, and whole garlic cloves. Cover with 10 cups of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and cook for another 30 minutes or until the beans are tender. Drain off the liquid and discard the pieces of carrot, celery, and garlic.

2. While the beans are cooking, prepare the broccoli rabe: Cut off and discard the bottom 2 inches (the thick ends) of the broccoli rabe. Cut the rest of the broccoli rabe into 2-inch pieces. Put it into a heavy-bottomed pot set over very low heat, and add the 1/4 cup olive oil, the chopped garlic, the cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes. The trick to keeping the broccoli rabe from becoming too bitter is to take your time and cook it slowly and evenly.

3. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons of water to the broccoli rabe. Stir, cover again, and cook for 8 minutes. It will appear overcooked and almost mushy — this is exactly what you’re looking for. Turn off the heat, leave the pan covered, and let the mixture steam for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 12 minutes or until al dente. Drain, toss lightly in olive oil to coat, and then spread the pasta out on a baking sheet to cool.

5. When you’re ready to serve the dish, combine the pasta, broccoli rabe, and beans in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the pecorino cheese and the lemon juice. Stir well to combine. Put the pasta mixture in a large serving bowl, or divide it among 4 smaller bowls. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup pecorino.

Antica Corte Pallavicina

There were so many highlights on our recent trip to Italy. One of the most memorable was our time at Antica Corte Pallavicina. Who knew that the one spare night between locations in the middle of the trip would be so cool?! From our private tour of the absolutely unreal culatello (like prosciutto, only way better) cellar to our Michelin-star dinner, this agriturismo blew our minds. And much to our delight, a couple weeks after we got home, we had the chance to go back by watching one of our faves, Anthony Bourdain, as he visited the prized cellar with his show, No Reservations. I think giddy is a good word to describe our excitement.

We cannot recommend this place highly enough. If you find yourself anywhere remotely near it, you absolutely must go. And if you go, please, please, take a cooking class. And then make those recipes as soon as you get home. Here’s the first, a classic handmade pasta tossed with vegetables. So simple, so, so good. The below is from my own notes, scribbled as I translated the Italian/English mix while we cooked in the kitchen. As we continue to make this, I’ll refine my notes. Finally, big ups to our chefs and teachers, Francesco and Nicholas.

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Pasta Antica, from Antica Corte Pallavicina

  • 250 g flour (0/0)
  • 125 g grated breadcrumbs
  • Boiling water
  • Salt
  • Carrot
  • Small eggplant
  • Small zucchini
  • Roma tomato
  • Zucchini flower
  • Basil
  • Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Olive oil

Mix flour and breadcrumbs with hands. Create a mound on your work surface with a dip in the middle.

Add boiling water and salt to the center of your mound. Mix with a fork.

Add more water as needed. Mix with hands until smoothly combined. Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Set aside. (You can freeze excess dough for up to a month.)

Julienne carrot, eggplant, and zucchini. (You can just use the skin of the eggplant and zucchini, not the middle white parts.)

Roll the pasta dough into long, thin strands. Use more flour as needed on surface and pasta. As you roll the strands, stretch your fingers outward. This helps keep the strands even. (You can also freeze excess strands of pasta dough. Form into a nest, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to a month.)

Boil water for the pasta.

Once boiling, blanch tomato by cooking for 10 seconds and then moving to an ice bath. Peel, remove the seeds, and julienne.

Heat a pan on high heat. Add olive oil. Add carrots and a little salt. (Adding salt as you add each vegetable pulls out the water and prevents the veg from burning.) Toss gently, with tweezers if you have them, or delicately with tongs or a spatula. Then add zucchini with a little more salt. Cook for a few minutes. Then add eggplant and salt, cook.

Meanwhile, salt the water, then cook the pasta for 5-10 minutes, depending on how thick your strands are.

Add the pasta to the vegetables. Add some pasta water to the mixture. Bring to a boil and cook for several minutes.

Add tomato, basil, and zucchini flower to pasta. Add grated Parmagiano-Reggiano. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.