Family Recipe
January 16, 2015 3:25 PM   Subscribe

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posted by Splunge at 3:54 PM on January 16, 2015

Recipe is awesome! But I am not sure about the portion sizing - perhaps my husky Canadian appetite comes into play here...

I find that one package of spaghetti is good for 5 people, if spaghetti is one course of a bigger meal. If it’s the only course then I say one package is good for 3 hungry people.

Uhhh - I won't say that I have nearly polished off a pack of pasta on my own - but....
posted by helmutdog at 4:23 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe you have different sized packets? Here (Australia) your average pack of spaghetti is 500g dry, and I can't imagine eating more than a third of that even if I was starving!
posted by lollusc at 4:39 PM on January 16, 2015

ISABELLA ROSSELLINI (aka MOM): "It was my father’s recipe… macho Italian man invents pasta sauce! It was considered a display of their creativity and versatility, but they never wash dishes (this is considered demeaning.)...."

Why am I not surprised? Still, that recipe sounds fantastic.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:53 PM on January 16, 2015

Seems like dinner is planned for tomorrow, now.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:55 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oil and herb based pasta dishes are super common in Rome, tomato based sauces are more a southern Italian thing but most of the immigrants to the U.S. where southern so Tomato based sauces are more common here, which is a shame cause the oil pastas are lighter and easier but then again they also depend on having access to lots of cheap, good olive oil and herbs which isn't always the case in the US.
posted by The Whelk at 5:02 PM on January 16, 2015

I have to say that I worked with her on a short-film shoot a million years ago. I was in over my head as a completely unsupported UPM, and her (at the time, at least, I dunno) BF was the lead in the short, so she was mostly just around, and decided that she was going to be my assistant, and was an absolutely lovely person.

Her mom called roughly a hundred times per day. I had to catch those calls once or twice. That was surreal.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:04 PM on January 16, 2015 [7 favorites]

I just wanted to say that I LOVE to say Isabella Rossellini's name in a very bad fake Italian accent from time to time. (Let's just say her first name starts with Eeeesa when I do it, and leave it at that.) I think I got that from David Letterman years ago. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do that this evening.
posted by spock at 5:44 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

This recent article on the Atlantic makes a pretty good case for trying pasta actually made in Italy (plus I found it an enjoyable read). For a recipe that's basically pasta with a light coating of herbs, the quality of the noodles probably makes a bigger difference than if you're just going to slather on some tomato-based sauce. I'd be interested to hear if people have opinions about Italian-made pasta, and which brands they like, etc.
posted by uosuaq at 5:47 PM on January 16, 2015

There's some other interesting things in here, like this 2-ingredient pizza dough.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:53 PM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love oil based sauces for pasta, so this is perfect.
posted by arcticseal at 6:50 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would pay to hear Isabella Rossellini read a recipe for pasta sauce, let alone cook it.
posted by jonp72 at 7:03 PM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'd be interested to hear if people have opinions about Italian-made pasta, and which brands they like, etc.

Opinionated adoptive-Italian "buona forchetta" here: the simplest trick for choosing a quality pasta is to look for the highest Recommended-Cooking-Time. (I'm assuming it's standard worldwide pratice for brands to indicate that on the packet, as they all do here in Italy. It's a parameter that isn't, of course, to be taken literally - you'll still have to taste the pasta as you cook it to gauge your personal al dente point, but it does let you sort between brands. For me, anything below 10 minutes is junk, with 12-13-14 meaning the real deal.) Longer times indicate more heft/substance of the grain the pasta is milled from, which is the first and foremost differentiating characteristic in pastas.

The second characteristic is how rough the surface of the pasta is, with those extruded from traditional bronze trafile generally being the least smooth = most "rough", thereby favoured for their ability to "trap" the condiment, rather than letting it slip off, to the bottom of the plate.

In the last few years there's been a great return to "quality pasta" in Italy too and, apart from myriad artisanal brands, each rougher and longer-cooking than the next, this has created demand for commerical brands to follow suit. There is a regional denomination (based on the place of origin of the wheat) which has had huge, often deserved, success: pasta di Gragnano. It's a "quality" that's claimed by various national brands, often as a "special selection" line of pasta. And to be honest it's usually a good discriminating criterion, when faced with a selection of brands you might not know.

The next level of quality differentiation, but here you're into a much more rarified (and expensive) terrain, is choosing the cultivar of wheat that's used - with the idea being that autochtonous, heirloom wheat carries more original heft/substance than the modern hybrids developed for industrialised production. The spearheads of this trend, here, are Senatore Cappelli wheat, and what goes by the Khorasan/Kamut moniker. The second can be trickier (given its co-opting by the organic produce sector, where organoleptic quality isn't necessarly the main issue), but if any Senatore Cappelli is available, you can be sure you're eating the top of the line in quality pasta production. (As always, you'd be wrong to expect a quantum leap in the experience, but it's certainly worth a try, to develop your distinguishing palate.)

TL/DR: go for longest recommended-cooking-time, pasta di Gragnano, and roughest surface available. My go-to supermarket brand is Garofalo, YMMV.
posted by progosk at 2:39 AM on January 17, 2015 [9 favorites]

As regards this specific recipe, it's definitely ideal for a long pasta - and even there, there's a choice to be made... thinner spaghettini? thicker vermicelli? flat bavette/linguine? I'd only rule out bucatini and - though they're almost always a more scrumptious pairing than standard spaghetti - spaghetti alla chitarra, but apart from that, there's quite a gamut.
posted by progosk at 5:33 AM on January 17, 2015

Thanks, progosk. After reading that Atlantic article I picked up a package of spaghetti from a company called Di Martino, which certainly *looks* rough and is 100% durum semolina, although the recommended cooking time is 8 minutes (but I don't know what thickness you were talking about when you mentioned 10+ minutes). Anyway it'll probably be a little while before I try it out, because at this time of year I'm mostly looking for excuses to have my oven on at 350 degrees for an hour or so. But it's nice to have a new thing to investigate.
posted by uosuaq at 1:52 PM on January 17, 2015

This Di Martino? They're Gragnano alright, but 8 minutes for spaghetti (the site says 7...) ain't exactly stellar; their vermicelli, clocking in at 10, might have been better - but then finding all the varieties is likely tricky over there. (I'm sure it'll be delicious anyway - buon appetito!)
posted by progosk at 4:25 PM on January 17, 2015

(Oh, and: if you're ever in the condition to splurge, treat yourself to Faella.)
posted by progosk at 4:36 PM on January 17, 2015

Surely though you won't find spaghettini that require over ten minutes to cook? Or will you? I don't know; I'm just a dog.
posted by kenko at 5:37 PM on January 17, 2015

It's a shape of pasta we rarely buy, but no: 10 minutes is my cut-off for spaghetti. (For reference, Garofalo's Spaghetti are 11', and according to their site, their spaghettini are 6'.)
posted by progosk at 10:31 PM on January 17, 2015

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