The dies give the surface of the pasta a microscopic roughness, a porosity that makes for a more perfect marriage with the sauce, which will cling instead of sliding off. The most important factor in producing good, flavorful pasta secca is the drying. Traditionally, pasta is dried at low temperatures, around degrees, for a long time -- as long as 30 hours for spaghetti and longer for more complicated shapes.
Industrial pasta may be dried very quickly at temperatures ranging from to degrees, or even higher. Low-temperature drying maintains the aroma and flavor of the wheat, as well as some of its nutritional value, including wheat protein. At degrees, Carlo Latini says, the starch molecules in wheat open, and a Maillard reaction, a chemical term for toasting, begins. The dark yellow color that this toasting produces in conventionally made pasta is an easy way to distinguish the product from traditionally made pasta, which has a pale creamy hue.
Williams-Sonoma carries Benedetto Cavalieri pasta in its shops but not by mail order. The most elegant pasta dish that Italian cooks have ever invented is astonishingly simple to make, especially now that pesto is made with a food processor instead of a mortar and pestle. Make pesto: in bowl of food processor, add basil, pine nuts, salt and garlic.
Pulse until mixture is coarse and grainy. With motor running, add oil in slow, steady stream. Add cheese; process just enough to mix well. If sauce is too dry, add a little more oil. Taste; add more cheese or salt, if desired. Bring 6 quarts water to rolling boil. Add at least 2 tablespoons salt and the potato slices. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until potatoes have started to soften but are not cooked through.
Add green beans, and continue boiling another 5 minutes. Add pasta, and stir. Start testing pasta at 5 minutes. When it is done, and when potatoes and beans are tender, drain and turn pasta and vegetables immediately into preheated bowl. Add pesto, and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately. Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: calories, 20 grams fat, 4 milligrams cholesterol, milligrams sodium before salting , 11 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrate. Seasonal vegetables can be substituted for the ones in this recipe.
Lightly steamed green beans, broccoli or cauliflower broken into small pieces work well in place of the zucchini; shredded spinach or other greens can take the place of the eggplant. In large frying pan, saute garlic and peppers in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat until they are very soft. Remove and set aside in medium bowl. Add remaining oil to pan, and raise heat to medium-high.
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Add eggplant, and brown quickly, removing cubes as they brown and adding them to peppers. Add zucchini pieces to pan, brown quickly on both sides, and add them to eggplant and peppers. Remove pan from heat, and immediately stir minced herbs into hot oil. Pour over vegetables and keep warm. Bring 5 to 6 quarts water to rolling boil. Add at least 2 tablespoons salt and then the pasta. Start testing pasta at 6 minutes. When pasta is done, drain it and turn it immediately into preheated bowl. Mix rapidly with hot tomato sauce. Or drain pasta when it is not quite done, and finish cooking in sauce.
When sauce is thoroughly mixed in, add sauteed vegetables, and mix lightly. Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: calories, 20 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, milligrams sodium before salting , 11 grams protein, 65 grams carbohydrate. A simple tomato sauce, made from fresh or canned tomatoes, is the foundation for vast numbers of dishes, but it is also very good on its own.
This recipe makes twice the amount of sauce needed for the dish. The rest can be refrigerated or frozen. Use fresh tomatoes, but only if they are very ripe, sweet and flavorful; about two pounds will do. Peel, seed and coarsely chop them before adding them to the saucepan.
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A pinch of sugar will help to accentuate the natural sweetness. Fresh tomatoes will need to cook about 10 minutes longer than canned.
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In heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, gently saute onion, garlic and parsley in olive oil. When onion and garlic are softened, but not starting to brown, add tomatoes with liquid, breaking them up with wooden spoon. Raise heat to medium-high. Cook rapidly, stirring frequently, until tomato liquid has evaporated and sauce has thickened considerably, about 20 minutes.
If desired, put sauce through food mill, or process in food processor or with immersion blender. This makes 3 cups of sauce, twice as much as necessary; set aside half in refrigerator or freezer. Return remaining sauce to low heat, and keep warm. Bring 5 to 6 quarts water to rapid boil. Start testing pasta after 5 to 6 minutes. Add slivered basil to hot tomato sauce. Pour about three-quarters of sauce over pasta. Toss to mix well, and then top with remaining sauce and grated cheese.
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Or drain pasta when it is not quite done, finish cooking in tomato sauce, and then top with grated cheese. Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: calories, 11 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, milligrams sodium before salting , 11 grams protein, 65 grams carbohydrate. This is the kind of quick, simple dish Italians often throw together after an all-night party or when spirits are flagging and an infusion of food is called for. Other types of long, thin pasta, like vermicelli, linguine or taglierini, may be substituted. If anchovies are omitted, adjust the salt in the sauce. Peel garlic cloves, removing green sprout at center, if necessary, and chop coarsely.
In pan large enough to hold all the drained pasta, cook garlic in oil very gently over medium-low heat. Cook just until garlic softens and starts to turn golden. Do not brown. Add at least 2 tablespoons salt to vigorously boiling water. Add spaghetti, stirring. If using anchovies, add them to oil and garlic.
Cook briefly, mashing anchovy pieces into oil with fork. Stir in chili pepper and half of the parsley, and carefully add a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. Let simmer, and reduce slightly while pasta finishes cooking. Start testing pasta after it has cooked for 4 minutes. When it is still a little chewy in the center, drain and add it to pan with sauce. Turn heat up slightly, and cook, mixing pasta and sauce together well for 1 to 2 minutes, or until pasta is done to taste.
Turn pasta into preheated serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining minced parsley, and serve immediately. Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: calories, 20 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 9 milligrams sodium before salting , 10 grams protein, 60 grams carbohydrate.
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