Thursday, September 03, 2009

My Favorite Artusi Recipe

Everyone has one.  At least, everyone in Italy, where the name Pellegrino Artusi is synonomous with home cooking.  If you aren't familiar with this icon of Italian food, read about him in my post, Do The Artusi, on my 'other' blog, 2 Baci in a Pinon Tree.

Yes, everyone has a favorite recipe from Artusi's volume, and mine is maccheroni.  There are lots of great dishes that I regularly prepare, but one of my go-to meals when I want something simple and scrumptuous is the Maccheroni alla Napoletana II.  He offers two Neapolitan sauce recipes, the first one closely resembles my nonna's braciole recipe.  The second is a meatless sauce that takes on a distinctive, almost decadent flavor from the addition of...butter! 

Artusi himself said it is "so good that I suggest you try it."   You won't want to go back to plain-jane red sauce again!

Maccheroni alla Napolitana II - according to Pellegrino Artusi

One of the things about Artusi is that he doesn't give recipes so much as instructions.

Ingredients you'll need:

Maccheroni (any dried pasta shape you prefer, though Artusi states that penne absorb this sauce better than long strands).  I use one pound for four people
olive oil
1 1/2 pounds of peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
grated Parmigiano

In his words: 
Saute 2 thick slices of onion in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  The onion will split into rings as it cooks; when it has browned, press it down with a spoon, then remove it and discard it.  Stir the tomatoes into the pan, add a bunch of basil, minced, and season the sauce with salt and pepper.  Simmer it until done, about 1/2 hour, or until it is no longer watery.

Use the sauce, 1/4 cup butter and grated Parmigiano to flavor the maccheroni, which will be especially liked by those who would swim in tomato sauce if they could.

My words:
I generally use canned tomatoes because when I lean on this dish it is usually when I'm pressed for time, and I don't feel like blanching, peeling, seeding and chopping the tomatoes.  When I drain the pasta, I stir in the butter before adding the sauce and cheese; it seems to let it absorb a little more of that buttery goodness.  And finally, I sprinkle on more Parmigiano before serving.

Viva Artusi!

Photo credit:


Chef Chuck said...

Valerie yum, onions and butter how can we go wrong! I could see why this dish is a favorite. I know I would love this flavor blend. Thank you for sharing!!

janie said...

Sounds like a winner. I love how Italian food uses the simplest ingredients and preparations to make a delicious dish.

Luigi said...

Sounds delicious, who knew there could be so many variations on a tomato sauce. I'm sure I would gladly eat any of them...

Valerie said...

Chuck - No kidding, huh? Just a little butter can add so much.

Janie - So true, the simplest things blended together make an amazing meal.

Luigi - I know! It's amazing that you can achieve so many different flavors just by tweaking the ingredients.