Food-blogs

Silvia’s Cucina’s Fresh Pasta Squares with Ricotta + Vegetables

Italian food lover, blogger and actress Silvia Colloca shares her easy fresh pasta recipe – sagne a pezze – topped with a simple ricotta and vegetable sauce from her new cookbook Silvia’s Cucina.

This is a very popular dish in the mountainous villages of Abruzzo. My second cousins run a restaurant in Torricella, and they serve freshly made pasta squares in a simple but splendid tomato sauce, crowned with a generous dollop of cow’s-milk ricotta (full-cream and unpasteurised). This is my personal take on the classic dish, devised to celebrate the crisp sweetness of spring vegetables.

When Nonna Irene taught me to make sagne, she wasn’t her usual vague self about size and measures. She insisted  the squares must be an even 2.5 cm × 2.5 cm. Given that this is the only time she has ever advocated precision in the kitchen, I make it a point to follow her instructions to the letter.

silviascucinarecipe

Extract from the book ‘Silvia’s Cucina’ by Silvia Colloca, & photography by Chris Chen, published by Lantern, RRP $39.99 

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 quantity of egg pasta dough , rolled into 2.5 mm thick sheets
coarse semolina, for dusting

Ricotta and vegetable sauce

3–4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 clove garlic, skin on, bashed with the back of a knife
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 zucchini (courgettes), thinly sliced
150 g broad beans with pods removed salt flakes
150 g full-cream ricotta finely grated zest of 1 lemon small mint leaves, to garnish freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Dust the pasta with semolina, then cut into 2.5 cm squares. Place them in one layer on a tea towel or wooden board generously dusted  with semolina.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

3. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat, add the garlic and spring onion and cook for 1–2 minutes  or until fragrant. Add the zucchini and and cook, tossing often, for 5–6 minutes or until golden. Turn off the heat.

4. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop in the broad beans and cook for 1–2 minutes. Lift them out with a slotted  spoon and rinse them under cold water to arrest  the cooking. Peel off the skins and add them to the zucchini and season with salt.

5. Return the water to the boil, then gently drop in the pasta squares and cook for 1–2 minutes  or until nicely al dente.

6. Turn the heat back on under the zucchini and broad bean mixture and remove the garlic clove. Using a slotted spoon, take out the cooked pasta squares and add them to the pan, along with a little pasta cooking water. Toss the pasta through the vegetables for 1–2 minutes or until well coated with the sauce. Add a little more pasta cooking water if the sauce looks a bit dry.

7. Divide the pasta and vegetables among shallow bowls and top with a good dollop of ricotta and a drizzle of olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and mint leaves and finish with a grinding of pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Note
Sagne a pezze are also quite wonderful dressed with roasted tomato sugo or Abruzzese-styl meat sauce.

silviascucina

October 24, 2013

Quick Dinner Ideas: One-Pot Farro with Tomatoes

This delicious quick dinner recipe comes from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen food blog, where it has become a bit of a cult classic in just a few months. And for good reason. This is going to become a dinner staple recipe (it has for me).

This one-pot recipe couldn’t be easier to make and is a real 30-minute meal. If you’ve always wanted to try farro, or want to eat more of it but are looking for new farro recipes, this is the dish for you. It’s a healthy dinner but feels luxurious. You simply add farro to a pot, throw in a few basic ingredients (as Deb says, who doesn’t have an onion and some tomatoes that need to be used up?) and you have an easy dinner that is much more than the sum of its parts. The farro cooks in its own delicious stock of garlic and tomatoes, the onions become soft and sweet, and it’s finished with a glug of good olive oil and a showering of parmesan. This is one of those dishes where it’s worth dusting off that expensive gift bottle of olive oil that you never use, as you’ll really taste it as the seasoning at the end.

Even better, this recipe is a blank canvas for other flavours and ingredients. I like to throw in a handful of rocket or baby spinach in the last minute of cooking just until it wilts. Have a few loose mushrooms rolling around the fridge? Slice and add them. Throw a fried egg on top. Not sure about farro? Use couscous. And leftovers make a great next-day lunch idea.

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 cups water
1 cup farro
1/2 large brown or Spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
250g cherry tomatoes
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
Up to 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optonal)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Few basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
Freshly-grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Method

1. In a medium cast-iron pot or saucepan, add the water and farro while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Add each ingredient to the pot as you finish preparing it: thinly slice the onion into quarter-moons. Thinly slice garlic cloves. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Add salt, pepper flakes (to taste) and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot, and set a timer for 30 minutes.

3. Bring uncovered pot (you won’t need a lid) up to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. When the timer rings, the farro should be perfectly cooked (tender but with a pleasant chew), and the cooking water should be almost completely absorbed. Check for seasoning. If the farro is still hard, keep it simmering for another 5 minutes.

4. Serve with a glug of your best extra-virgin olive oil, basil leaves and shavings of freshly-grated parmesan.

What’s your favourite one-pot meal?

September 23, 2013