Monday, February 02, 2009

Cavatelli ai Pistacchi

One of the cool things about coming "down south" for the winter is the chance to see the regional differences in cooking. You see, Italy is still very region-centric and proud (rightfully) of their own unique history, culture, and traditions...especially as relates to food and wine.

Here in southern Campania there is a heavier emphasis on citrus (closer to the groves) and the bread, we have discovered, gets better the farther south you go. As much as I like central Italian cuisine, their bread is really bland. Wine varietals differ, fresh fish is much more prevalent, and mozzarella di bufala is abundant (and cheaper!). Pasta shapes are different, too. Here you see more cavatelli and orecchiette, like in Puglia and Basilicata, and nuts coming from Sicily and Calabria are in big bins at the mercato.

Seeing some freshly roasted pistachios, I remembered this simple dish to use up some of them (yes, I over-bought, because they just tasted so darn good!)

Cavatelli ai Pistacchi

  • 1 pound cavatelli (or other small pasta shape, but fresh pasta is best)
  • 1 cup tomato-cream sauce (you can make this sauce, eliminating the gorgonzola and adding a little more cream, or use your normal, everyday marinara and add about 1/3 cup cream to it)
  • dash paprika
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Pecorino cheese (don't substitute Parmigiano, trust me, the cheese really helps make the dish!)
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
Cook the pasta in abundant boiling, salted water. Meanwhile, prepare or reheat the tomato cream sauce, adding the paprika and half of the Pecorino cheese. Stir until the cheese is dissolved.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and put in a large serving bowl, topping it with the sauce and stirring to thoroughly coat the pasta. Dust the top with the remainder of the Pecorino cheese, then sprinkle on the pistachios. Serves 4.