Sometimes I tend to be a bit obsessive with my food. My cousin, who is generous and kind, says I'm just working to master a recipe I've created. I say I am beguiled by a particular set of flavors and just have to indulge myself until the infatuation has run its course.
Whatever. I've been doing it again—and if you like pasta, you might be glad.
The brilliance of Terra Madre, co-sponsored by the government of Italy's Piedmont Region, is that attendees—more than 7,000 of us—stay in the homes of people throughout the region.
All five members of our band were cared for beautifully by residents of the village of Vinovo (more about this in a later blog), who fed us as though we were honored family members. Every meal except breakfast included pasta which, I realized after the second meal, wasn't the main course as it is here in the United States. I also noticed that the Italians didn't clean their plates but just ate enough pasta to anchor the meal. I enjoyed the pasta more once I realized I didn't have to give the cooks back a Happy Plate every time I was served a bowl of pasta. Saying "Basta, grazie" (plenty, thanks) was just fine.
Still, now that I'm back, I'm having pasta at about ten times my previous rate, which I don't think my waistline can actually sustain for very long. (Interestingly, none of our hosts was overweight, although they were all good eaters, for sure. I think it has to do with an intrinsically more active lifestyle.)
The pasta I'm having is completely my own invention—and therefore, inauthentic and probably culinarily suspect. However, it's also pretty darned good, so I'll share my recipe with you and you can eat faux Italian, too.
None of these amounts is exact—I developed this recipe by playing in the kitchen and I hope you will, too.
Everything I use is organic unless I have absolutely no other choice.
· About a cup of dried egg noodles (tagliatelle, but you can use any other pasta you like), cooked al dente in salted, boiling water.
· While the noodles are cooking, heat some olive oil in a small skillet and brown a little sausage (my natural food coop makes wonderful chorizo, Italian sausage and a chicken sausage, all of which I've used). For my one serving, I use half a sausage.
· If you have them, also brown some mushrooms. I use shitake and call the whole shebang a health food. ;=]
· While the sausage and noodles are cooking, chop a handful of flat Italian parsley—it comes to about a half cup when it's chopped. I use more; I'm crazy about it and it's about as healthy as anything you'll eat.I've also used fresh marjoram from the pot outside my back door--just a tablespoon or so, mixed in with the parsley;
· Grate a little zest from half a lemon;
· Peel 2 cloves garlic (more or less to suit your tastes) and run through the garlic press;
· Drain the noodles into an individual bowl; spoon the sausage and mushrooms over noodles in the bowl;
· Sprinkle parsley, lemon zest and garlic over pasta;
· Douse with a tablespoon or so of olive oil (I use this fabulous chile-infused olive oil my daughter gave me and it is completely delicioso);
· If you have any anchovy paste, now's the time to use it – about a teaspoon, for my taste;
· Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon; toss everything well;
· Salt and pepper to taste;
· Shave or shake a little parmesan over the top. (For the version pictured here, I added some mixed salad greens at the last minute, for extra nutrition. See? A health food, sure enough.)
Write and let me know how you like it—and also what variations on a theme you came up with. Now, go play in the kitchen!