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29 May 2012

Riccioli al Barolo con Salsiccia e Funghi and the Town of Talamello

As soon as I walked in the shop, the rows of colossal bags of red, ribbon-like pasta caught my attention.  To make the packaging even more attractive, they were all sealed with big, blue bows embossed with the manufacturer's name in gold.   Upon closer look, I read Riccioli al Barolo.  I saw sparkles. I love Barolo wine and to capture its taste in pasta is something that I had to try. A kilo each made the bags almost half as tall as my daughter.   They were too much and cost like gold but they were waiting to be taken home.

The tricky part was with what kind of sauce it would blend well.  Red wine goes well with meat and I've pretty much decided on meat sauce.   I made the salsa di salsiccia & funghi (sausage & mushroom sauce), that is quite a favorite at home.  It's almost the same sauce I made for the Maccheroni al Ferretto Pasta that I posted last year, this time using Dolomite dried mushrooms.  

The result?  It was one of the best pasta dishes I came up with.  The hint of Barolo mixed with the tomatoes, mushrooms and sausages made a united blend of Goodness!  It was good enough that my family asked for it for three straight meals, after I gave up on the second.  And what astounded me was that my extremely picky-eater daughter wouldn't leave the table because she wanted more of the pasta after polishing off her plate. 

Here's another set of pictures to conclude my Marchigian series (Marche region is in the Central North part of Italy).   I thought I have posted all my acceptable pictures of the region but these ones of the town of Talamello got left behind.   The first three I posted are Gradara, San Leo and the Republic of San Marino.  Like the town of San Leo, Talamello was also handed over to the neighboring region, Emilia Romagna in 2009 but when I went there, it was still a part of Marche. 

Talamello is a very small, quiet hilltop medieval town.   It has a population of a little bit more than one thousand and an area of 10.5 km.  Even if it's on the small side, it has some monuments of its own worth seeing like the fountain in the main square and the 15th century cemetery chapel that has frescoes done by Antonio Alberti, one of the most famous artists during that time.

On the gastronomic side, it is important and famous for its production of formaggio di fossa (pit cheese), L'Ambra di Talamello as it is famously dubbed.   My favorite aged cheese is formaggio di fossa and I usually get them from Tuscany but the one of Talamello hits me straight to falling in love all over again with this kind of cheese.  It's doesn't really look appealing because of its ugly, dark & discolored rind but once you get to taste what is stored inside, you will be amazed at its flavor.  And the saying goes that the inside beauty counts more than the exterior.  Ok, it's my favorite cheese so I can be biased too.

Going back to the recipe, riccioli al barolo is not easy to find, even here. They are sold only in specialty shops so I am assuming that abroad, it should even be more difficult to find it.  Replace it with any regular pasta made of durum wheat because the sauce is very good and I think it's worth having with or without the barolo pasta. 

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Please don't forget that I still have the giveaway of Bronte pistachios, almond paste brick and Sicilian dried oregano, going on until Sunday, the 3rd of June at 12 Midnight, Rome Time (GMT +2).  Please click on this LINK to go to the post with the instructions.  Thank you!

Riccioli al Barolo con Salsiccia & Funghi

Serves 4
  • 50 grams Dolomite dried mushrooms (or about 300 grams fresh mushrooms), chopped coarsely
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
  • 250 grams / 3 salsicce (Italian sausages), taken out from casings & crumbled 
  • 500 grams tomato puree 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 400 grams riccioli al barolo (or regular pasta if you can't find it)
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • 100 grams parmigiano reggiano, grated
  1. Soak the dried mushrooms (if using) in lukewarm water for half an hour then drain.  Squeeze the mushrooms lightly to send away excess water.
  2. On medium flame, in a saucepan, sautè the onion & garlic in extra virgin olive oil.  
  3. When the garlic turns golden, add the sausage.  Brown the meat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms.  Sautè for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato puree & water.  
  6. Let it boil.  Once it boils, simmer for at least 30 minutes on low fire.  
  7. In another cooking pot, boil some water for the pasta.  When it boils, add the salt then the pasta.  The riccioli al barolo cook for 3 minutes.  If you use other types of pasta, refer to the cooking time suggested in the box.  In any pasta dish, the pasta should cook at the same time or after the sauce. 
  8. Season with salt & pepper.
  9. Add the cooked pasta.  Mix well.
  10. Sprinkle the parsley & parmigiano reggiano.
  11. Serve hot.