Pasta Joys

February 26th, 2014 § 0 comments

It may seem like HG is referencing the Middle Ages, but back in the 1970s pasta was still a fairly exotic term while spaghetti ruled the roost when it came to Italian noodles dishes. The great wave of wonderful pasta dishes and their sauces had yet to arrive in the typical american pantry. In fact, HG first tasted penne with broccoli at Delsomma, a wonderful (alas, long closed) Italian restaurant on W. 47th Street in New York. (HG wrote about the restaurant: Gone But Not Forgotten Restaurants: Delsomma…Sept. 2011). Loved the dish and it became a mainstay in the HG/BSK home. BSK makes the broccoli sauce this way: Blanches florets and stems in the boiling pasta water. Purees some of the broccoli in the blender with chicken stock. Sautes the rest of the broccoli in olive oil with anchovies and minced garlic. It’s all blended with parmesan and poured over the pasta with a dusting of red pepper flakes and chopped parsley. Mighty good. Giuliano Bugialli, the esteemed Italian pasta authority, suggests another way to make penne with broccoli, a method popular in southern Italy. The broccoli is cooked with the pasta. First, the stems are added to the boiling pasta. After two minutes, the florets go into the pot. in 12 to 15 minutes the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is cooked. Minced garlic, red pepper flakes and capers are heated in olive oil and poured over the broccoli and pasta. Showered with chopped parsley. HG will try this method but will add anchovies, an ingredient that complements the sponge-like nature of a broccoli floret.

While it may seem difficult to find a new method to making pasta, BSK did just that a few days ago: Cauliflower-bacon-penne risotto. That’s right. Risotto made with penne pasta instead of rice. BSK roasted cauliflower florets with a dusting of cumin. Fried thick cut bacon to crispness. Deglazed the bacon pan, sauteed some garlic and added the bacon and roasted cauliflower. Cooked the penne like Arborio rice. In a heavy saucepan, cooked sliced onion in olive oil until transparent. Mixed the softened onions with penne. Added chicken stock. Tossed in a tablespoon of dry white wine. Brought liquid to a boil. Reduced to medium high and then simmered. HG stirred the mixture until the penne had absorbed the flavorful broth and was al dente. HG made sure some starchy broth remained to make a sauce. In went the cauliflower-bacon with Romano cheese, Maldon Smoked Sea Salt Flakes and ground pepper. A perfect dish wish a green salad and red wine. Pasta still has many joys.


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