Tags: Fava

Sicilian Mac & Cheese

Since 1937 cupboards across America have contained slender blue boxes with gold lettering declaring itself “Macaroni & Cheese”- Sure I’ve eaten the stuff- shoveled spoonfuls of the skinny elbow, glowy orange macaroni into my mouth, but I can’t say that this was the mac and cheese we grew up on.

Pasta Ricotta, as it was commonly referred to in our house, was made with rotini pasta smothered in fresh ricotta cheese, tossed with parsley, black pepper, and then topped with a generous handful of grated cheese, this  was our version of the classic American dish.  Picky eater approved and just as simple to make as that other one- you can save all those blue boxes to use as maracas at your next soiree.

For the grown up version below,  I used a pasta made from fava bean flour- the noodles were chewy and had a nutty flavor that stood up really well against the richness and creaminess of the cheese.  Enjoy!

Pasta Ricotta

1 pound Fava bean flour pasta (or regular semolina will do just as well-use any macaroni shape you want- penne, rotini, shells…)
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
handful of fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup of grated cheese (as always I used locatelli)
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste (TASTE FIRST- depending on the cheese it might not need much or any at all!)’

Preparation:

Boil the pasta in a large pot with sea salted water- drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

In a large mixing bowl combine the fresh ricotta, parsley and egg yolk, add the pasta directly to the bowl stirring quickly.  If too dry, add a quarter of cup of the pasta water, continue to do this until you have the consistency you like- you may not have to use all the starchy water.  Top the pasta with freshly ground pepper and grated cheese.  Serve immediately!!

Cooking from the Gut

When my Brother, Drew returned from his honeymoon on the Amalfi coast a little over a month ago I interrogated him with questions pertaining to one thing and one thing only, food. “What did you eat!?” He was exceedingly patient with me while I made him describe every morsel, meal and snack starting from the first day of his trip and ending in the Roman airport where he claims to have had a wonderful glass of wine and the best lasagna he ever tasted.  Lucky for me my brother loves food as much as I do.

Many of the plates he described had an air of familiarity but one seemed to tickle my culinary interest in particular, pasta with fava beans, spring peas, a bit of mint and ginger. Ginger?!!? I couldn’t even imagine it- Drew went on to explain that according to the matrie d’,  this recipe dates back to 1890, that’s over a century of innovation, brought upon of course by many centuries of trade. I suddenly got the feeling that I was cooking too much inside the lines.

Sometimes in the kitchen dishes must be prepared from the “gut”. This is especially true when you are making something you have never tasted, read a recipe for, or even seen a picture of. Having never seen or tasted this pasta for myself, I was forced to imagine it, texture and flavor. I gathered ingredients from the market and pantry and begin cooking right from my gut. The result was a delicate and aromatic pasta dish, which I am sure I will make again and again.

Farro Pasta with Mint Gingered Pea Pesto and Fava 

Ingredients: 

1 pound tagliatelle di farro-

*use you certainly use a plain pasta here, but the taste of the farro held up really well against the sauce*

3 cloves garlic
1 pound fresh peas
1 pound fresh shelled fava beans
6 mint leaves
1 cup basil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
¼ cup grated ricotta salata plus more for grating
½ cup of locatelli romano cheese
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups organic chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
8 grape tomatoes diced
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

 Preparation:

First things first boil the peas in salted water for about five minutes drain and set aside and allow cooling.

In a food processor add one clove of garlic, the basil, mint, cheeses, ginger, cooled peas, salt and pepper.  Pulse while drizzling in the extra virgin olive oil until a coarse paste emerges.

In a medium to large sauté pan (big enough to toss your pasta in!) gently soften the remaining garlic.  Add the shelled and rinsed fava beans and sauté on medium heat for five minutes or until the skin of the fava beans begins to pucker slightly.  Add the pea pesto and stir to combine; the sauce will be very thick at this point.  Next pour in the broth season with salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes while the pasta cooks.  (Cook pasta according to package directions and be sure to use plenty of sea salt in that water!) Toss the pasta into the sauce adding the tomatoes and the additional grated ricotta salata.  Serve immediately and enjoy.