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Friday, December 29, 2006

Pasta Campionissimo

This is a quick and cheap pasta dish I make pretty often, because it tastes so damn good.

It is based on the "homestyle" pasta I've had at Centro Formaggi and uses cheap ingredients that are easy to always have on hand.

It's a simple dish to make, but is very complex because all the flavours are restrained. The key to this dish is that nothing should be overpowering.

The sauce should be thin, almost watery, and there shouldn't be too much "stuff" in it. If you're unsure about how much meat or garlic or basil to use, just use less of it.

Though the ingredients are relatively expensive, but you don't use much of them, and they keep well (except the basil).

For the noodle I prefer a ridged tubular noodle like tortiglioni rather than long noodles like linguine.


strained tomato puree
olive oil
1 anchovy fillet
proscuitto chunks
salami pieces (optional)
proscuitto chunks

Step 1: I boil the pasta and that is enough time to whip up the sauce:

I lightly warm some chopped garlic in olive oil with some diced proscuitto chunks. Use medium heat, we don't want to sautee this. I buy the proscuitto "ends" cheap at the grocery and they will keep in the fridge for a long time. Here I also added some sliced up salami.

Step 2: I also always try to have on hand anchovy fillets in oil and strained tomatoes (pic below).

I take a anchovy fillet and squash it into a paste with the blade of a knife and add it to the mixture. I might also add some of the oil from the anchovy jar. The anchovies are very salty and aromatic, it is meant to serve only as a flavouring, you don't want to overdo them.

I prefer these strained tomatoes in the jar so I can pour out what I want and easily fridge the rest. Also it has a much lighter taste than the stuff packaged as "sauce".

Step 3:
Finally I pour in the desired amount of sauce and some fresh basil leaves (uncut) and let it warm up (without boiling). The basil will just wilt in the heat.

Now just add the finished sauce to the cooked and drained pasta. Here I've served it up with some Pecorino Romano crumbled on top, just a little bit.

This dish spoils me, since it's unlikely that any pasta dish I can order up at a restaurant will taste as good to me or seem like a good value.

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