Easy Pasta dishes with Giuliano Hazan

Food fads come and go but the craving for Italian food still continues to endure; a few really simple pasta recipes are a must in everyone’s repertoire and where better to seek them out than in Giuliano Hazan’s books. Giuliano’s first book ‘The Classic Pasta Cookbook’ sold over half a million copies world wide, so it obviously hit the spot for many people. He went onto write several others including ‘Every Night Italian’ and ‘How to Cook Italian’ but I found several more new gems in his last book ‘Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes’
There are many types and shapes of pasta in Italy; some pasta is made with wheat flour others with buckwheat, chickpea, chestnut flour or farro, the latter is an ancient Etruscan grain similar to spelt which is gaining in popularity.
The most common however is made from flour and eggs or flour and water, the latter tends to be made from durum wheat, a harder flour which results in a firmer sturdier pasta best suited to oil based and more robustly flavoured sauces – e.g. those with anchovies, olives, capers or fiery red chillies.
Tender homemade egg pasta is wonderful but not necessarily better than good bought pasta, it is simply different. The Italians just use them for different recipes. Its not difficult to make a simple pasta sauce yourself it can be made in a fraction of the time it would take to you to go to the shops to buy it so why not snap up a few packets of good Italian or organic pasta from Noodle House Organics and whip up a little spontaneous meal for family and friends, after all, as Giuliano says
‘Cooking for someone is one of the most loving gifts you can bestow, because you are giving a little of yourself’ enjoy!

Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes is published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

Giuliano Hazan’s Cannellini Bean and Pasta Soup
Minestra di Cannellini e Pas
ta

Minus the pasta, this soup spans at least three generations. My mother learned it from her father. Then it became one of my father’s favourites. He is particularly fond of beans, and this is a thick soup of all beans and very little else. The little else though, is garlic and parsley, which give cannellini beans an immensely satisfying flavor. I’ve added pasta to make the soup substantial enough for a meal.

S e r v e s 4

1 large clove garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (2 15-ounce cans) canned
Cannellini beans, drained
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3–4 springs flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 large beef bouillon cube
4 ounces dried egg noodles,
such as tagliatelle or pappardelle

Peel the garlic and finely chop it. Put it with the olive oil in a 4- to 6-
quart soup pot and place over medium-high heat. After the garlic begins to sizzle, add the cannellini beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. While the beans are cooking, finely chop enough parsley to measure 1 tablespoon. After the beans have cooked for 5 minutes, add 2 cups water and the
bouillon cube and cover the pot. Once the soup has come to a boil, break the egg noodles into approximately 1-inch pieces and add them to the soup. Lower the heat to medium, add the parsley, and cook, covered, until the pasta is al dente. Serve hot.
Minus the pasta, this soup spans at least three generations. My mother learned it from her father. Then it became one of my father’s favorites. He is particularly fond of beans, and this is a thick soup of all beans and very little else. The little else though, is garlic and parsley, which gives cannellini beans an immensely satisfying flavor. I’ve added pasta to make the soup substantial enough for a meal.

Giuliano Hazan’s Tagliatelle with Chickpeas
Tagliatelle coi Ceci

One of the restaurants we enjoy going to when we are in Valpolicella, the wine country outside of Verona, is Alla Rosa Alda, in the tiny hilltop town of San Giorgio. One of their specialties is a pasta dish they call “Tagliatelle Embogonè” in the local dialect. It is homemade egg noodles with a sauce of fresh cranberry beans. When I was growing up, my mother made a soup with chickpeas, tomatoes, and rosemary that I loved. I’ve adapted it here, taking inspiration from Alla Rosa Alda’s dish, into a pasta sauce that is now one of our favorites at home.

S e r v e s 4

½ medium yellow onion
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive
oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
at the end
1 medium clove garlic
1–2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 pound fresh tomatoes
Salt
1½ cups canned chickpeas,
drained
Freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces dried egg tagliatelle

Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat,
and bring to a boil. Peel the onion and finely chop it. Put it and the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat. Sauté until the onion turns a
rich golden color, about 5 minutes. While the onion is sautéing, peel the garlic and finely chop it. Finely chop enough rosemary to measure 1 teaspoon. Peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop them. When the onion is ready, add the garlic and rosemary. Sauté for 10 to 15 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Season lightly with salt and cook until
most of the liquid the tomatoes release has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas, season with pepper and again lightly with salt, and cook for 5 more minutes. Scoop out about half the chickpeas and puree them. A food mill will produce a smoother texture, but if you don’t have one you can use a food processor. Mix the pureed chickpeas into the sauce and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Once the pureed chickpeas are back in the pan, add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the tagliatelle, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
After the pasta has cooked about 2 minutes, mix 2 tablespoons of the pasta water into the sauce. When the pasta is done, drain well and toss with the sauce. Drizzle a little olive oil and grind some black pepper over each portion and serve at once.

Giuliano Hazan’s Penne with Radicchio
Penne al Radicchio Rosso

S e r v e s  4

½ large sweet yellow onion
3 tablespoons butter
3 ounces pancetta, sliced
1⁄8 inch thick
1 pound radicchio
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3–4 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 pound penne (fusilli is also good)
¾ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated freshly grated
Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Peel the onion and finely chop it. Put the butter in a 12-inch skillet, add the chopped onion, and place over medium-high heat. Sauté until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes. While the onion is sautéing, cut the pancetta into narrow strips about 1 inch long. Remove any bruised leaves from the radicchio, cut it in half lengthwise, and cut off the bottom of the root. Finely shred the radicchio. When the onion is ready, add the pancetta and cook until it loses its raw color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the radicchio and season with salt and pepper. Add about ½ cup water, lower the heat to medium, and cover the pan. Cook until the radicchio is very tender, about 20 minutes. Check it periodically and add more water if the liquid evaporates before the radicchio is tender. While the radicchio is cooking, finely chop enough parsley to measure about 1 tablespoon. After the radicchio has been cooking for at least 15 minutes, add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the penne, and stir well. Cook until al dente. When the radicchio is tender, uncover the pan, raise the heat, and let any remaining moisture evaporate. Add the cream and parsley and cook until the cream has thickened and reduced by about one-third. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve at once.

Radicchio adds a refreshing, slightly bitter flavor to salads. When it is cooked, it loses some of its bitterness and makes a rich, luscious sauce. The Veneto region of Italy is known for the many varieties of radicchio grown there. The one from Treviso is the radicchio most often used in cooking. It is elongated and shaped a little like Romaine lettuce. The most prized is the one available in late fall called tardivo. It is distinguished by how the tops of its leaves curl in toward the center and by its rich, deep flavor.

Giuliano Hazan’s Tagliatelle with Peas
Tagliatelle ai Piselli

One of my favorite restaurants in Verona is Il Pompiere. They make a pasta dish when peas are in season that is thoroughly infused with their sweet flavor. Marco, the chef/owner, was kind enough to share his secret with me. It’s actually very simple. Once the peas are tender, half are pureed until creamy and mixed back into the sauce.
When the pasta is tossed with the sauce, it absorbs all that delicious pea flavor, which is why I like using the wider tagliatelle noodles. Although you could make this with premium frozen peas, the sweet flavor of fresh peas is worth the extra time it takes to shell them.

S e r v e s 4

½ medium yellow onion
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1¾ pounds fresh peas
(or 12 ounces frozen peas)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces dried egg tagliatelle or pappardelle

Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat,
and bring to a boil. Peel and finely chop the onion. Put the olive oil in a saucepan or deep 8-inch skillet, add the chopped onion, and place over medium heat. Sauté
until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes. While the onion is sautéing, shell the fresh peas, if using. When the onion is ready, add the peas and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir the peas well, then add about ½ cup water. Cook over medium heat until the peas are tender, adding water if it evaporates completely before they are done. It should take 15 to 20 minutes for the peas to become tender. (If using frozen peas, add water only once and cook for 6 to 8 minutes). When the peas are tender, remove from the heat, take out about half the peas, and puree them. A food mill will make the smoothest puree, but
if you don’t have one you can use a food processor. Put the pureed peas back in the pan with the whole peas. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the tagliatelle, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente. After the pasta has cooked for about 2 minutes, add ¾ cup of the pasta water to the pan with the peas and stir well. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce, and serve at once.

Giuliano Hazan’s Tagliatelle with a Quick and Simple Meat Sauce
Tagliatelle al Ragù Veloc
e

I recommend using beef chuck, which is about 20 percent fat, to keep the sauce moist. If you will be using a leaner cut, add a tablespoon of butter.

S e r v e s 4

½ medium yellow onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound fresh tomatoes
¾ pound ground beef chuck
Salt
10 ounces dried egg tagliatelle
or pappardelle (or 1 pound rigatoni or shells)
1⁄3 cup freshly grated
Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat,
and bring to a boil. Peel the onion and finely chop it. Put the olive oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet, add the chopped onion, and place over medium-high heat. Sauté until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes. While the onion is sautéing, peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop them. When the onion is ready, add the ground beef, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until it has lost its raw color and just begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season them with salt, and cook over medium heat until the liquid the tomatoes release has almost completely evaporated,
10 to 12 minutes. Add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the tagliatelle, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve at once.

Text copyright © 2009 Giuliano Hazan. Photographs copyright © 2009 by Joseph De Leo

Fool Proof Food

Pesto

Homemade Pesto takes minutes to make and tastes a million times better than most of what you buy.  The problem is getting enough basil.  If you have difficulty, use parsley, a mixture of parsley and mint or parsley and coriander – different but still delicious.

Serve with pasta, goat cheese, tomato and mozzarella.

4ozs (115g) fresh basil leaves
6 – 8 fl ozs (175 – 250ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 oz (25g) fresh pine kernels (taste when you buy to make sure they are not rancid)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 ozs (50g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiana Reggiano is best) salt to taste

Whizz the basil with the olive oil, pine kernels and garlic in a food processor or pound in a pestle and mortar.  Remove to a bowl and fold in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season.

Pesto keeps for weeks, covered with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. It also freezes well but for best results don’t add the grated Parmesan until it has defrosted. Freeze in small jars for convenience.


Thrifty Tip

Pick up a couple of those growing pots of basil in the supermarket, pick off the leaves and whisk up a little pesto – add to a bowl of pasta and maybe some chopped crispy bacon or ham for a taste of summer in dreary January!

Hot Tips

Great Italian Food at Dunne & Crescenzi at the Arnotts Project in Dublin’s Jervis Centre  Stroll down Henry Street for a bit of sales shopping, delicious pit stop at Dunne & Crescenzi – brunch, lunch, coffee or a Prosecco with the girls while browsing for the bargains!    Take home some pasta, olive oil, coffee, chocolate …….and other goodies.

The Noodle House Organic Pasta was established by Ingrid and Alois Basler in 1998 in Curry, Co. Sligo. To find out where you can purchase their organic pasta, sauces and jams Tel: 071 91 85589, email: nhorganicpasta@eircom.net or visit www.noodlehouseorganics.ie

Darina Allen’s new book ‘Forgotten Skills of Cooking’ has been shortlisted for the André Simon Food and Drink book awards. The winners will be announced in the spring.

Learn how to cook the perfect romantic meal for Valentine’s Day on the one day Culinary Cupid Course on Saturday 6th February 2010 at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Phone 021 4646785 to book.