Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tivoli Inspired Lemon Pancetta Pasta - Pasta of the Month

I can't begin to explain how my first trip to Italy inspired me in the kitchen.  I was extremely impressed while on an excursion to the town of Tivoli which is a fortress of a town which was frequented in ancient times by the wealthy Romans.  After the main attraction, the Villa d'Este, we were treated to a pasta making demonstration by mother and daughter at the restaurant Terme di Diana.

Villa d'Este

Pasta making demo at Terme di Diana Restaurante

They made pasta the "old school" way which I still haven't mastered, but they made it look so easy, it was worth a try.  Since that first try I've resorted to using my trusty food processor, much simpler!  

The best recipe/method I've found happens to be Giada's fresh pasta on page 222 from her cookbook "Everyday Pasta".  I love her recipes!

When I make fresh pasta I'll usually make a few different types/shapes utilizing the whole batch.  Sometimes, it's ravioli, lasagna, fettuccine or, this time, spaghetti noodles.  Then I freeze whatever I won't be using that day.  For my Lemon Pancetta pasta I used approximately 6 "nests" of fresh spaghetti.  You can use about 1/2 pkg for the same amount.

"nests" of pasta

Tivoli Inspired Lemon Pancetta Pasta

5 "rounds" of pancetta, chopped

1 small shallot, sliced and chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 Tbsp red chili flakes

1 Tbsp of lemon zest

1 Tbsp of lemon juice

handful of fresh basil, sliced

ladle of pasta water (reserve before draining the pasta)

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

Parmesan cheese grated for garnish (optional)

While you boil some water for the pasta, put together the sauce.  If using fresh pasta, it will only boil for a few minutes versus 9-11 minutes.

For the sauce, in a large skillet fry the pancetta until it's done.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot and continue to cook until soft.  Add the garlic and chili flakes, then the zest, lemon juice and basil.

Bring the pasta water to a boil, add a sprinkle of salt.  Add the pasta and stir to keep from clumping.  When it rises to the top, it's done, usually about 3 minutes or so.  Reserve a ladle of water, drain and place the pasta into the skillet.  Mix well and add the ladle, especially if dry, then the oil and butter, blending well.  Plate and serve.  Molto bene!

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