Thursday, May 6, 2010

When It's Raining, Raid the Fridge

I was so wanting pasta on Tuesday.  Not some fancy or even authentic Italian dish, but more of an Italian American Sunday "gravy" kind of meal.  The kind of slow cooked sauce, filled with meaty treats, that graces the tables of Italian American families.  I looked out the window and the skies were the color of impending doom.  Seconds later, rain was falling in torrents.  Even though the supermarket is literally across the street, I it would border on insanity to venture out in this.  I grabbed a Lydia Bastianich cookbook and started browsing.

Within seconds I ran across a recipe that was perfect.  It was almost as if Lydia poked around my kitchen and came up with this dish.  Well, it wasn't 100% perfect, but it was close.  I had the pancetta in the fridge from about a week ago, I always have cans of tomatoes and of course I have onions, lots of onions.

My take was not 100% faithful to Lydia, but I made do.  I did not have fresh basil and I did not have whole, canned San Marzano tomatoes.  I just had dried basil and good old canned Jersey tomatoes, crushed.  I also did not have spaghetti, only short pasta.  E hates long pasta, so I just buy the short shapes like ziti, farfalle, etc.  I had this open bag of this funky snail shaped pasta that I pressed into duty.

In the end, it was pretty darn good.  I think it was more tomatoey than Lydia envisioned, but the taste was there.  The hollow parts of the snail shells filled up with the sauce making them an unexpected hit.  Into each life, a little rain must fall.  This time, it made me cook a memorable meal, while staying dry.

Recipe adapted from Lydia Bastianich

1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
6 ounces of pancetta, unrolled and cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes(or to taste)
Salt to taste(be cautious, the pancetta is salty so be sure to taste)
Parmesan cheese to taste
One pound of pasta

Sweat the onions until soft, 2-4 minutes
Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often for 4 minutes
Add the oregano, basil and red pepper  and cook for 1 minute
Add tomatoes and stir well
Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes

In the meantime, bring water to a boil and add pasta of your choice
Cook till al dente according to package directions
Drain pasta reserving one cup of cooking water
Put pasta in pot with sauce
If sauce looks too thick, add some of the pasta cooking liquid to thin it out
Cook pasta in sauce for a few minutes
Add cheese and taste sauce.  If salt is needed add more cheese or add salt
Alternately, if you are not serving an army.  Cook less than one pound of pasta.  Add desired amount of sauce to pasta and cook, reserving extra sauce for another meal.
Serve with additional cheese on the side.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks and sounds delishious! Thank you for the warming post!