Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spaghetti Rigati alla Roma

There are many great pasta dishes that have origins in Rome, Italy.  This pea, prosciutto, pancetta and tomato pasta recipe has an Americanized name, "alla Roma".  The techniques are Italian "a la minute" (cooked to order).  Bucatini (hollow spaghetti) is the choice pasta for this recipe, but in my area, it is hard to find.
     The Italian chef that I learned this recipe from, prepared no tomato sauces ahead of time.  He cooked peeled plum tomato filets with olive oil and garlic for only a few minutes and that was all the preparation that was done ahead of time.  "Tomatoes this great need very little cooking" was his motto.  We cooked our dried pastas to order too. 
     The chef came from Rome, Italy and he had an Italian cooking style I had never seen before.  Everything was cooked to order and every recipe was traditional.  I learned quite a bit about fine Italian cooking from that chef.  This quick, cooked to order Roma pasta is a real treat for pasta lovers!
     Recipe:  Heat a saute pan over medium high heat.
     Add a splash of olive oil.
     Add 1 clove of chopped garlic. 
     Before the garlic turns a golden color, add a small handful of chopped pancetta. 
     Saute till the pancetta turns a light brown color.
     Add a small handful of chopped prosciutto. 
     Saute till the prosciutto aroma develops.
     Add about 1 cup of  hand squeezed, imported canned Italian peeled plum tomato filets packed in their own juices.
     Add a few leaves of chopped fresh basil.
     Add a couple pinches of oregano.
     Add sea salt and black pepper. 
     Add a little bit of  fresh chopped parsley.  (When cooking a tomato sauce, make sure to cook the sauce with enough olive oil so that the tomatoes don't "stew in their own juices.  Olive oil should be the medium for the tomatoes to "grab on to".  Don't use an excess amount of oil though.)
     Reduce the sauce quickly over medium high heat.
     When the sauce is thick enough to coat the pasta, add a handful of sweet petite peas.
     When the sauce heats back up, add a portion of al dente cooked spaghetti rigati. 
     Toss the pasta and sauce together. 
     Set the pasta on a plate. 
     Spoon any excess sauce over the pasta. 
     Sprinkle a small amount of fresh grated parmesan cheese over the pasta. 
     Garnish with a basil sprig.
     Only make enough sauce to flavor and coat the pasta.  The pasta should be minimally coated with sauce and not swimming in sauce.  
     Delicious!  This is a very light entree with so much great flavor.  There is some kind of flavor reaction when pancetta and prosciutto are cooked with olive oil and tomatoes that gives off an incredibly nice aroma.  The light flavor of peas is so tame with the bold flavors of the sauce.  The sauce should be finished at the same time it takes to cook the al dente spaghetti rigati.  Thats about 8 minutes.  This is one of my favorite pasta recipes!  Ciao Baby! ...  Shawna  

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