07 August 2012

Pasta with Salsiccia, Drunken Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Discovering Eataly


I have a boring life when August steps in.  My vacations are finished and I start cocooning myself inside the house until the peak of the summer heat subsides.  With the whole country going to the beach (including my kids and husband), I choose to stay indoors and enjoy being away from the reach of the sun.  People are baffled about this when I live just a few minutes from the beach.  The only explanation I can give is that growing up in the Philippines, a tropical country with 365 days of sun (well, most of them), I enjoyed practically a lifetime of beach living.  Being an archipelago comprised of 7,107 islands, it's a beach paradise.  In that sense, I cannot let go of the memories of the comfort of staying in almost isolated beaches with white sands. 


Going out is just because of mere necessity.  You will have to drag me to go out or you will have to give me a very good reason why I should give up my comfortable niche. EATALY is one good reason to open that door and step out.  Ever since I read about it and its immediate success in Rome as soon as it opened last month, I couldn't wait to go there myself.   It's a gargantuan dome of buying, eating and studying Italian food.  


It's Slow Food in full throttle to take a strong position against its nemesis, fast food.  Expect the prices to be higher than normal because everything you can find here is done with quality ingredients and the old and proper methods of producing food.  But as you go around this 17,000 square meter building, you will understand the reason why you pay a few Euros more for that bottle of artisanal lemonade done with Sicilian lemons, that jar of anchovies caught in Cetara at the Amalfi Coast or that box of nougat done with hazelnuts of Piedmont. 


The first time I went there, I just had a good scan of what the hype was all about.  After a month of being open to the public, the place was still very much crowded on a weeknight.  With 23 restaurants inside, we didn't get a single seat and the food shopping was not so easy with my kids candy shopping on their own.  I was amused about their choices of candies, their old favorites that I introduced to them, violette and rose candy drops from the old Italian candy company, Leone


Yesterday was my second time and this time, I had a good look at all the products and I was even able to sit down and eat.  For some reason, I had grown fixated with the fried fish of Pasquale Torrente of Cetara One thing that I noticed was its lightness, no trace of of fried food taste and they were so easy to digest.   I was also able to watch how they made mozzarella right before serving them on the plates in Roberto Battaglia's laboratory.  Freshly done mozzarella doesn't need any description.  


In the same area are the laboratories for making fresh bread done with lievito madre (natural yeast), artisanal beer, ice cream, fresh pasta and I'm sure there are more that I am failing to mention. 

My son can attest to the superior quality of the cappuccino d'orzo (barley cappuccino) of Caffe' Vergnano 1882.  He had two cups and went to the barman himself to tell him that he just had the best cappuccino d'orzo in his life.  


Now before you abandon my post completely and start wondering what happened to the pasta, here I am to discuss about it.

I used short pasta called i gigli (lilies), aptly named for their flower shape.  I simply mixed them with grilled salsicce (sausages), a big amount of formaggio ubriaco (drunken cheese), sun-dried tomatoes & fennel seeds.  It's the second time I did this and after a delicious result with ricotta affumicata (smoked ricotta) from northern Italy, I did it again but using another kind of cheese from the north too.  Between the two kinds of cheese, ricotta affumicata blended better with the sausages.   Use whatever aged cheese you have and enjoy this simple pasta!



Pasta with Salsiccia, Drunken Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 350 - 400 grams short pasta (I used gigli.)
  • 3 big salsicce (sausages)
  • 1/2 cup grated formaggio ubriaco (drunken cheese) or any similar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
  • about 4 - 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt 
  • pepper
Directions:
  1. Boil some water for the pasta.  When the water boils, add the salt then add the pasta.  Cook until al dente, following the number of minutes suggested in the packaging.
  2. Meanwhile, while waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sausages.
  3. Punch some holes in the sausages with the tip of a knife.  Grill on a griddle until all sides are brown.  If the sausages are fat, slice them in the middle, vertically, opening them up like a book.  Brown both sides.   When they are cooked, chop them to small pieces.  
  4. Transfer the chopped sausages to a big saucepan without oil.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes and fennel seeds.  Add the cooked pasta.  Mix everything together.
  5. If the pasta seems dry, ladle some water that you cooked the pasta with.  Don't put too much because it might become soupy, just enough to take away the dryness.  Turn off the fire.
  6. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil until the pasta is coated well.  
  7. Mix in the cheese.
  8. Season with pepper and salt (if still needed).


15 comments:

  1. Shopping at Eatay would be an absolute dream - definitely a reason to leave the house and brave the heat! I love the simplicity of this pasta dish, yet I know the taste is exceptional with those choice ingredients!

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    1. It is definitely a gastronomic heaven Laura! It's so much fun to see all the good stuff altogether in one place. My son gives this pasta a thumbs up!

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  2. Eataly sounds incredible! I'd never want to leave! This dish is exactly what I love about Italian cuisine--simple, quality ingredients. It makes all the difference!

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    1. It's also what I love about Italian food, the simplicity of the ingredients.

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  3. Oh, I did love THAT shopping expedition! [Methinks shall head straight back for another 'walk' and have a rather salivating mouth after ;) !]. Love your simple pasta dish too, but can just imagine what the local stores would say if I asked for 'drunken cheese' here in semi-rural Oz!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed that shopping expedition. I can imagine the look you will get when you ask for drunken cheese there. Haha! You can substitute it with any other semi-tasty cheese though.

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  4. The pasta looks delicious! I think grilling the sausages is really better than cooking it in a pan with oil. Thanks for the idea! Eataly seems like a place to see in Rome! Thanks for the peek at this great place! Emma

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    1. Hi Emma. The sausages I used were leftovers from a meal. However, grilling them is better than frying. Thanks!

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  5. What a great post. I guess I can see why you stay home and don't go the beach crowed with people when you were used to such beautiful secluded ones. I stay inside most of Aug. too since the temp. gets so hot here and humid too. What a neat place you visited with lots of wonderful foods to choose from I would have a hard time deciding. Your son had 2 cappuccinos so how long was he up from that or are they small? Beautiful pasta dish as usual and I wish I could sit and eat it with you. I've tried to keep up pinning your recipes they are always wonderful.

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    1. Hi Suzanne. Yes, it's actually the humidity that we are up against. Eataly was worth going out for anyway. The cappuccino d'orzo is cappucino made of barley. It doesn't have caffeine so it's what the kids drink here. They are the size of a regular cup. Thank you for pinning my recipes, that is so sweet of you! Enjoy your week!

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  6. Just having returned from Bologna I've eaten a variety of pasta with salsiccia but this wasn't one of them so I'm definitely going to try it. We will be in Rome in November so I'm going to check if Eataly is still running & if so we'll be there, I was just saying to my husband that over 50% of our holidays revolve around food. We are either talking about it, looking for restaurants, reading menus, shopping or just wishing that we could eat as much as we wanted without putting on weight!!

    I love your blog, this is the first time I've commented but stop by regularly and have made some of your recipes, your slow roasted tomatoes are just yummy & I will be making them regularly.

    Carolle

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    1. Hi Carolle! It's wonderful to know that you have made some of my recipes and that you liked my slow-roasted tomatoes, which is my current favorite! I have tried it with pasta and boy, is it wonderful! This pasta dish is good when you put a lot of cheese that goes well with the salsiccia. Tell me what kind of cheese you used. Eataly should still be open in November and for many years to come. It's a wonderful place to explore. I hope you will enjoy it. Their fresh pasta and bread are the best we have tried so don't forget to try them. If you need a suggestion or two on restaurants, just email me. Thanks!

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  7. What can I substitute the drunken cheese with?

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    1. Hi Angela. You can substitute it with ricotta affumicata (smoked ricotta) or other cheese with similar taste. If it's easier, you can also mix 50% pecorino and 50% parmigiano reggiano. The taste will not be the same but pecorino mixed with parmigiano is used a lot here and creates a wonderful taste. I hope that helps.

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  8. Last summer I visited Eataly in New York City. It was absolutely amazing! I'll be in Rome next spring and can't wait to visit the Eataly there. I love your blog!

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I would love to read what you think!