Delicious pasta dinners
Readers of my blog will know that pasta dishes feature prominently on The Rockettman Blog, particularly freshly made pasta from our Lello electric pasta maker. We are always looking for new pasta dishes to try and I recently came across some very exciting recipes, among them pasta alla Norma, dirty martini bucatini and rigatoni with shaved brussels sprouts and pancetta.
Pasta alla Norma
We are big fans of the Stanley Tucci series Searching for Italy, in which he travels the country exploring regional culture and gastronomy. We hosted friends for an Italian themed dinner recently and decided to replicate one of the dishes featured in the episode on Sicily – pasta alla Norma. This dish originated in Catania and is named in honor of Vicenzo Bellini, the composer of the opera Norma.
The recipe calls for long pasta, and we chose bucatini as that has become our favorite type of pasta (freshly made of course). The main complement to the pasta is eggplant that is cooked in olive oil until nicely brown and then removed from the sauté pan. To the same pan combine garlic, chiles, tomatoes and oregano until it becomes a sauce. The eggplant is sliced into strips, returned to the tomato sauce and reheated, to which the pasta is added and tossed to coat. The pasta mixture is scooped into bowls and topped with grated ricotta salata and fresh, chopped basil leaves. The dish is spicy and sublime!
Dirty martini bucatini
This recently caught my eye as an unusual and creative pasta dish that uses all the ingredients of a dirty martini – either gin or vodka can be used. To save time, I used a dried bucatini from my local Italian store for this dish. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil, add garlic and gently cook, then combine with crushed Castelvetrano olives and lemon zest, followed by the gin or vodka until evaporated. Whisk in olive brine until blended and stir in butter to emulsify the sauce. After adding the cooked pasta to the sauce, scoop the mixture into bowls and garnish with more olives (chopped), crumbled blue cheese and freshly ground black pepper. This dish is irresistible!
Rigatoni with shaved brussels sprouts and pancetta
This has become a new favorite autumnal comfort food dish. Pancetta is browned in a sauté pan and removed with a slotted spoon. Shallots and garlic are then cooked in the pan until soft and fragrant, to which thinly sliced brussels sprouts are added. White wine is poured into the mixture and simmered until reduced. Butter is added along with the cooked rigatoni and tossed to coat the pasta. Serve in bowls and garnish with pancetta and pine nuts – add a sprinkle of chili flakes for a spicy version.
Always remember to reserve a cup of pasta water to loosen up the pasta dish prior to serving if the mixture appears dry. Mangia bene!