Cucina Chiaravalloti

Recipes for Mixed Marriages

Campanelle con il pesto dell' aglio e della salvia (Bellflower Pasta with Sage and Garlic Pesto)

This is a variation on a simple butter and sage pasta dressing that occurred to me as a way to incorporate some fresh homegrown garlic. I decided to puree the fresh sage, oil, and garlic, which created a marvelous creamy sauce with little sage flecks throughout. I had a package of campanelle pasta from Barilla, and it seemed the ideal vehicle for coating with a creamy pasta sauce. The campanelle (bellflowers) are little funnels of broad pasta with a ruffle on the edge. They cook in about half the time the package directions call for, so start testing for doneness after 6 minutes.  Any delicate shape could be substituted, such as farfalle.  Serves four as a pasta course or two for a main meal, with leftovers.

Serve this pasta with a mesclun (mixed greens) salad and a bottle of Lamezia or Primitivo from Calabria, or a Cotes du Rhône Villages.

The sauce.

Place the soft, roasted, and peeled garlic with its cooking oil in a blender or processor. Add the chopped sage leaf and  puree the mixture in a blender or small food processor, adding olive oil, salt and grindings of pepper to taste. If too thick, add small amounts of the pasta cooking water before saucing the pasta.

The Pasta.

Warm a platter or pasta bowl.

Bring four quarts of water to boil in a small stockpot. Add 2-3 tbs. of kosher salt and the pasta. Stir. Adjust the heat. Test after 6 minutes and drain into a colander when done, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Do not rinse.

Put the pasta back into the empty cooking pot and combine with the sauce, using a drizzle of the pasta water if needed to get the pasta to coat evenly. Add a handful of grated pecarino Romano and stir to mix and coat the pasta. Transfer to the platter, add a grinding of pepper, and an extra sprinkle of cheese.

Serve with more cheese, a mesclun salad, and a red wine.

The Salad.

Use a leftover vinaigrette or a lemony Caesar dressing (see Hail! Caesar) and simply toss with a good mix of leaf lettuce and bitter herbs. Add kosher salt and a grinding of pepper.

The classic Italian dressing is no dressing at all, but a verb, to dress. Place the washed and dried greens in a salad bowl. Add a splash of wine vinegar and a pinch of kosher salt. Toss lightly. Add good cold pressed olive oil and toss a little more. Crush some Greek oregano off the stem between your fingers and sprinkle over all. Add another small pinch of salt, and a liberal grinding of pepper.

A Spanish proverb quoted by Alexandre Dumas says that to make a good salad, you entrust the vinegar to a miser, the salt to a judge, and the olive oil to a spendthrift. He doesn't say anything about the pepper.