Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spaghetti all'Ascolana

A local specialty pasta, this dish makes an appearance on just about every menu in town, especially this time of year when the weather heats up. I'm not sure what tuna has to do with Ascoli Piceno, but they are wild about the stuff around here. The aisles at the supermarket have more varieties of canned tuna than I knew could possibly exist!

Simple ingredients make for a tasty combination, and in the time it takes the spaghetti to cook, dinner is ready...doesn't get much better than that, especially in the summer when you don't want to be spending time in a hot kitchen.

1 pound spaghetti
olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (to your taste)
dash red chile flakes
1 C. white wine
1 1/2 C. chopped fresh tomatoes (about 3 tomatoes)
2 cans tuna, packed in olive oil*
a couple of handfuls of green olives (here they use the local Ascoli Tenera variety, which is a very large, mild and meat olive that is not heavily vinegary. But whatever type of green olive you prefer.
Chopped parsley
Pecorino cheese, grated

Put the pot of water to boil for cooking the spaghetti and proceed with the sauce.

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Add the red chile flakes, a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, the wine and tomatoes and stir well. Add the tuna and simmer about 10 minutes. Toss in the olives, sprinkle with chopped parsley and add to the cooked spaghetti. Top with a grating of pecorino cheese.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Raviolini with Gorgonzola-Tomato Sauce

Raviolini al Gorgonzola-Pomodoro

I love ravioli when they are freshly made. The pasta all’uova shop in town has two varieties…the plump, crescent-shaped ricotta-filled “normal” ravioli, and the little square ones filled with a ground meat and pecorino mixture, known as raviolini. If you can find such a thing, snatch them up! They are delicious. But if not, don’t fret. This recipe works well with any fresh pasta as well as your run-of-the-mill rigatoni (albeit with a different resulting flavor).

It’s simple, too, but impressive enough for guests. Now that fresh tomatoes are in season, it’s perfect.

1 shallot, minced
3 ripe fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped
splash of white wine
salt and pepper
5 or 6 basil leaves
about 3 tbsp. crumbled gorgonzola
about ¼ fresh cream

Saute the shallot in about 1 tbsp. of olive oil until soft. Add the fresh tomatoes and sauté a few minutes until they are soft. Add the wine, basil and salt and pepper, stirring well. Cover and cook about 5 minutes. Add the gorgonzola, stirring until melted. Swirl in the cream and stir well. Pour over the freshly cooked ravioli or pasta.