Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weeknight Staples: Easy Northern Italian Pasta

This one is a staple for us. I stumbled upon this recipe after we returned from our honeymoon in Umbria, Italy. I've had a lot of fantastic Italian food (thanks to Nanny and my mom!) in my life, but I found the cuisine of the region we visited much different. The sauces really stumped me. I couldn't figure out what was different, aside from the exceptional quality of fresh ingredients. I could only describe them as, well, surprisingly buttery! This was true even in Rome, where we stayed for a couple of days lapping up cappuccinos, chocolate tortes, and, of course, plenty of pasta. When I saw this recipe with butter in it, I tried it. This sauce doesn't quite match up to the heavenly dishes I was treated to overseas, but it is the closest I've come so far. That aside, Brandon and I have really grown fond of this one . . .

The addition of milk and a hint of nutmeg might have a few southern Italian food lovers turning up their noses (eh hem, Dad!), but I promise, this is a great dish and won't taste either milky or nutty when you're done.

This is a perfect weeknight recipe. It's inexpensive; it makes a lot; and it gets better with age (next day is better than the first!)

* Usually needs a little extra salt once plated.
* Serve with plenty of fresh grated parmesan cheese.
* Add a little finely grated cheese (1/4 cup) to the sauce to thicken it up a bit.
* While sauce is still in the pan, add some of the pasta water and cook a bit of it off so that the sauce is not so runny.
* Leftovers: reheat in a large skillet, adding a little water to freshen up the sauce.

I can't wait to try this next summer with sun ripened tomatoes from the garden!!

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