On our day trip to Gragnano, where one of the BEST pasta's in Italy is made, our lunch was on a working farm.
Driving past the village itself, I saw the factory for the Faella pasta company right in the main part of town. The pasta from Gragnano is famous not only because of the quality of the wheat they use for the pasta, but the long slow drying of the pasta, which gives the pasta more flavor and body.
One of my favorites is a spaghetti packaged under the label VERACE
Other famous brands you may see are:
Here is a link to a list of some of the producers
from a festival they had to promote the Pasta from Gragnano, you will find the links to the websites of the producers.
Look for any of these pastas.
They come in a variety of shapes and forms, each one best with a certain type of sauce.
There is an article in the Washington Post on the pasta from Gragnano
When we arrived at the agritourismo, which means a working farm where you can also stay overnight,
|the view from the main bedroom!|
All the fruit trees were all bearing fruit, I also saw my first hazelnuts growing
After my last post on the Mac and Cheese day, I was asked for the recipe for the pasta I had at lunch.
here is the before foto
These are Rigatoni stuffed with ricotta cheese and breaded and baked.
They are served on a light tomato sauce
Here is the recipe:
First one must understand the cooking of the pasta.
- cook the pasta in salted water, use sea salt or kosher salt, this is very important part as the pasta absorbs the salt through osmosis during the cooking and adds flavor to the pasta.
- Use a lot if water so the pasta has space to move around and not stick to itself while cooking.
- do not add oil, the pasta is made of hard wheat flour, which contains gluten. The gluten in the pasta and the fact that they were extruded through bronze dies instead of teflon, creates a surface to hold the sauce to the pasta. Adding oil makes the pasta slippery and the sauce slides off.
- DO NOT RINSE OFF THE PASTA, for the same reason as above, you want the starch from the pasta to hold the sauce on.
- Keep some of the pasta water. Instead of adding cream to recipes or butter, some of the pasta water is the secret of all great chefs to the perfect sauce.
- DO NOT DRAIN ALL THE WATER FROM THE PASTA. Again, same reasoning, you want a little of the water clinging to the pasta for the sauce.
DO NOT OVER COOK THE PASTA. You want the pasta "al dente"- this means with a little "bite" left in it. The pasta finishes cooking i the sauce.
OK, now you are ready to start cooking.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil
Add salt to taste (do not add the salt at the beginning, it takes longer to boil
and can spot the bottom of your pots).
Add the pasta and stir.
Control cooking time, usually 8- 10 minutes for this style of pasta, but depends in shape.
Most people use this time to make a light quick sauce.
Before draining the pasta reserve a ladle of the pasta water.
Drain the pasta, leaving some of the water on it and pour into sauce pan ( a large skillet)
and finish the cooking time.
If needed, add some of the reserved pasta water.
You can also add cheese now.
SERVE IMMEDIATELY, PASTA WAITS FOR NO ONE!
OK, now that you know how to cook the pasta, here is the recipe for the
Stuffed Rigatoni from the Casa Scola
Cook the rigatoni as above ( for this recipe they should be totally cooked, not al dente, but not falling apart)
Drain the rigatoni and rinse off to chill.
Separate the Rigatoni.
Stuff with Ricotta cheese( our ricotta is so flavorfull it needs nothing, if yours is bland add some grated parmesan and or a pinch of salt and or nutmeg.)
I use a disposable pastry bag to fill the tubes.
Roll the tubes in a beaten egg, covering also the ends, then in bread crumbs.
Place on a baking sheet, covered with baking paper.
Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
Bake at 350 in the middle of the oven until golden, 5-10 minutes depending on your stove.
When the tubes are golden, remove from the serving tray and serve as in the foto.
on a small ladle of tomato sauce and topped with shaved provolone cheese.
Your family will kiss you!
Baci from Gragnano!