Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spaghetti Rigati alla Roma

     Rome Style Peas, Prosciutto and Pancetta Tomato Sauce Pasta! 
     There are many great pastas that have origins in Rome, Italy.  Today's Rome style peas, prosciutto, pancetta and Tomato Sauce pasta is traditionally cooked "a la minute" which means a minimum of preparation is done ahead of time.  When cooking a pasta entrée to order the Italian way, the sauce should be finished cooking at the same time that it takes to cook the pasta al dente.  
     Bucatini Pasta is the traditional choice for today's Rome style pasta recipe.  Unfortunately, Bucatini was not available at any food markets when I made the recipe example for the photos.  Spaghetti or Capellini are acceptable substitutes for Bucatini.  I found some Spaghetti Rigati and this modern pasta is interesting in one respect.  The Italian word Rigati refers to grooves that run along the length of the pasta surface.  Pasta Rigati of any kind is designed to pick up more sauce than a pasta that has a smooth surface.  Spaghetti Rigati also looks nice on a plate.
     One Italian chef that I once worked with, cooked in Rome, Italy, for over 10 years.  The chef from Rome prepared no Tomato Sauce or Marinara ahead of time.  However, he did briefly prepare the tomatoes ahead of time, so making tomato sauces to order would be a little bit easier.  He cooked a big batch of peeled hand crushed San Marzano Plum Tomato filets with olive oil and garlic for about five minutes, then turned the heat off.  After the prepared tomatoes cooled down, they were placed in a container and chilled till they were needed.  This preparation style is perfect for San Marzano Plum Tomatoes, because this tomato breed is the best for making sauces.  The Roma chef used to say, "Tomatoes this great need very little cooking!"
     The same Italian chef from Rome used to cook every pasta to order.  This method takes some skill to master when the restaurant is busy, but it actually is the best way to cook dried pasta, because the pasta will be al dente when cooked to perfection.  Fresh cooked al dente pasta with a freshly made sauce is the standard of perfection cooking is done in Rome.  The extra effort is rewarding and the customers do notice the difference.
     The combination of Parma Ham, Peas and Prosciutto creates a surprisingly bold flavor when combined with a simple tomato garlic and olive oil sauce.  This quick a la minute Roma pasta is a real treat for traditional Italian pasta fans!

     San Marzano Tomato Preparation:
     This recipe yields about 3 1/2 cups.  (Enough for 3 to 5 pasta portions, depending on the application.)
     Step 1:  Select a 28 ounce can of Peeled San Marzano Tomato Filets Packed In Their Own Juices.
     Place the tomatoes and juices in a mixing bowl.
     Squeeze and crush the tomato filets by hand, till the pieces are no bigger than a small pea.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of olive oil.
     Add 2 tablespoon of minced garlic.
     Gently sauté till the garlic is a light golden color.
     Step 3:  Add the crushed San Marzano Tomatoes and their juices.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
     *Stir with the goal of trying to combine the oil with the tomatoes.
     Step 5:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.  Stir occasionally.
     Place the Prepared San Marzano Tomatoes in a container and chill till they are needed.

     Spaghetti Rigati alla Roma:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     The Italian rule of thumb is to only make enough sauce to coat the pasta with flavor.  The pasta should not be swimming in sauce!
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 portion of Spaghetti Rigati Pasta in a pot of boiling water over medium high heat till the pasta is al dente.
     *This takes about 10 minutes.  The sauce can be made while the pasta cooks!
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 3 tablespoons of diced Pancetta.
     Sauté till the pancetta turns a light golden brown color.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic.
     Add 3 tablespoons of chopped thin sliced Prosciutto.
     Briefly sauté till the prosciutto and garlic becomes aromatic.  (Do not brown the Prosciutto!)
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/3 cups of the Prepared San Marzano Tomatoes.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh basil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Bring the sauce to a simmer.
     Step 5:  Add 1/3 cup of thawed frozen peas.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce warm till the pasta finishes cooking.
     *The sauce will gently simmer and thicken till the pasta is ready.
     Step 6:  When the Spaghetti Rigati is cooked al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the Spaghetti Rigati to the sauce in the sauté pan.
     Toss the pasta and sauce together.
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Use a long tine carving fork to mound the Spaghetti Rigati alla Roma on a plate.
     Spoon any excess sauce over the pasta.
     Sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoon of thin shaved Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Garnish with a basil sprig.

     Pasta alla Roma is a favorite of many people, because it is so aromatic and the flavor is bold!

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