Anelletti with Sauce & Bread Crumbs
This is not Middle Earth and although I am not the tallest of guys- I am no Hobbit and one ring is not enough for me! No, no! I am a Sicilian and we like rings... lots of rings! Pasta rings to be precise, or "Anelletti" as we call them, tiny, slinky loops of yumminess!
I was planning on making a "Timballo" of these, as is the tradition, baking them in the oven and then turning the whole thing out as a kind of pie at the end... but I will have to save that adventure for another time as it will take a little more pasta to hold together as a single serving like this. So I improvised and made this dish using the same flavors and a lot less time- which made a lot of sense to lil' ol' me this evening! First, let's deal with the basics and the flavors- and next time we can tackle the oven baked version for the whole family!
I started off of course with the sauce here, made using the classic "sofritto" of finely chopped carrot, celery and onion. I popped these into a saucepan with the ground meat and cranked up the heat... no need for any added oil here of course as the meat has plenty of its own. As soon as the meat began to brown, I added some crushed garlic, finely chopped basil, a little dried oregano and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. I stirred the paste in well and added a little grated nutmeg, salt and pepper, a bay leaf and a couple of handfuls of frozen peas. Once the peas were well mixed in, I added some boiling water (so as to not slow down the cooking process)- and right before my eyes a sauce began to take shape right out of nowhere! I added water little by little, until the sauce had a nice consistency and let it simmer for 10 minutes before turning on my water to boil for the pasta...
By the time the water had come to the boiled, the sauce had already reduced down nicely, so I reduced it to a low simmer and started the anelletti boiling- I used 3 handfuls to make this serving here. After 10 minutes of boiling in salted water in the usual manner, the pasta was almost good (it does take a little longer than you might imagine), so I drained it and then transferred it to the pan with the sauce, to continue cooking for a further 5 minutes. In that time of course, cooling in the sauce, it really soaks up all of the flavors wonderfully- yummy!
In the meantime, I toasted up a few bread crumbs with a little olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper to add an extra crunch upon serving. Once the pasta was nice and tender and had soaked up all of the excess water, I added just a little mozzarella and stirred that in before serving. With the crispy bread crumbs and just a few shavings of Parmesan... well guys and gals, what can I say? it was truly terrific! And I am sure you will enjoy it if you give it a try- so go ahead and do so!