Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Pasta- e Basta!

Casarecce con Cime di Rapa, Salami di Cinghiale, Capuliato & Ricotta Salata
Casarecce with Broccoli Rabe, Wild Boar Salami, Ground Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Salted Ricotta


Sometimes, all that I want after a hard day at work is to come home, have some peace and quiet... And a good plate of yummy pasta! No fussing around, no fancy stuff, no frills... Just down to earth home cooking... The kind we love back in the old country.

If you have a handful of greens, a handful of pasta and a little imagination, you can make a great pasta dish. If you have a couple more simple, but flavorful ingredients, staples of a Sicilian kitchen... Then there is no holding you back from turning that great pasta dish into something greater still!


Ok, I will admit it, although the other ingredients I used to prepare this dish are very ordinary and everyday staples down in southern Italy, you may not have them readily available... But you will easily be able to get something similar.

For example, you can use any salami (or failing that, ham or bacon) if you don't have wild boar salami... I just happened to have it in the fridge- lucky me!

And deliciously fruity and tangy, "capuliato' is a wonderful product from sunny Sicily, which is basically sun-dried tomatoes, which are put through a grinder and then preserved when they are still nice and moist. If you can't get this, you can always chop up or grind regular sun-dried tomatoes.

But the salted ricotta... You're going to have to get out and find! That's a flavor you can't substitute with anything else!


So, apart from my 2 handfuls of pasta, casarecce in this case, all I needed was: a small bunch of broccoli rabe, enough to fill a plate in its raw state (it will wilt down considerably once it's cooked!), about 3" of salami, 1 shallot, 1 tablespoon of capuliato (ground or chopped sun-dried tomato), salt, pepper, teaspoon of fennel seed and a hint of nutmeg. Oh... And yes... Some scrumptious salted ricotta for grating at the end!


With mild but slightly bitter greens,tangy and savory salami and sun-dried tomato and also the salted ricotta... You have a LOT of strong flavors going on in this dish! And if you get the balance right... You are going to love the way they all come together!


Start off by chopping the stalks of the broccoli rabe and boiling them ahead of time for 5 minutes. In the meantime, finely chop the salami and the shallot and fry them together in a non-stick pan until the fat from the salami renders and the shallot begins to sizzle. Next add the fennel seed and the ground sun-dried tomato and stir together well.


Add your pasta to the broccoli stalks after 5 minutes and then after a further 3-4 minutes of them boiling together, add the leaves, which are much more tender and will be done in just 3-4 minutes- and indeed, continue boiling for that little bit longer- before the fun begins!


So, after 6-7 minutes of cooking in all, transfer the pasta and greens to the frying pan and stir them in well, with the other ingredients.


Continue cooking and stirring, until all of the water has been absorbed and until all of those flavors that come up during cooking, get cooked IN to the pasta. There should be no need for extra oil depending on the salami you use... The pasta should have a nice, light sheen already once it's done, from the fat of the salami, but if yours seems a little dry... Then add a dash of olive oil before serving... It's all good!


Grind with plenty of fresh black pepper and add a dusting of salted ricotta... And enjoy!


Toss together so that all of the aromas combine nicely together and enjoy steaming hot and delicious as can be... Who would want to sit and wait with a plate of perfect pasta like this? Not I!!!


Again, forget the tomato or cream sauces, forget the difficult methods and learn to relax and enjoy the simple things.

But remember... Although the best things in life are free, you are still going to have to buy yourselves these ingredients if you want to make this dish... And I think that you probably should!

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