HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

*July 2010 COTM - ITALIAN EASY: Pasta

Our July cookbooks are ITALIAN EASY and ITALIAN TWO EASY, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.

Please use this thread to discuss recipes from the following chapters:

Italian Easy:

Spaghetti
Short Pasta
Tagliatelle
Tutti Ricotta
Risotto

Italian Two Easy:

Tomato Pasta
Fish Pasta

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. An old favorite is Orecchiette, tomato, ricotta (p. 68 in ITE). There is a typo or oops or whatever somewhere in the instructions (I think they forget to tell you when to add the basil) that messed with me the first time I made it, but it is simplicity itself, and really delicious. I usually sub scungili (sp?) just because I prefer the texture. You mix the ricotta (with the basil?) and salt/pepp; in another bowl combine halved, squeezed cherry tomatoes with chopped garlic, S&P, olive oil and let marinate. Cook your pasta, gently heat the tomato mix then add the cooked pasta and stir in the ricottta.

    and last night I made:

    Borlotti beans with Tagliatelle (actually cannelli with fettucine) from IE, p. 92.

    Couldn't find tagliatelle, couldn't find borlotti, and don't eat pork. Soldiered on by subbing the cannelli beans, fettucine and turkey bacon. Not what they had in mind but absolutely delicious. You chop a red onion (honestly, I see no reason why it needs to be red) and some garllic and saute in olive oil until soft. Add the chopped pancetta (or in my case turkey bacon) and cook, add canned tomatoes, cook 5 minutes, add beans and 3 tablespoons of cream (I wouldn't have guessed there was cream in this dish - for those watching weight it might well be possible to skip this) and cook another 5 minutes. Add some basil and then tossed in the cooked pasta. I love beans and I love pasta. Carb heaven. As usual these days, photo will be attached once I get my beloved computer back.

    48 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      HA! I love that I am not the only substition queen. I think the onion needs to be red only to have one ingredient be precisely what the recipe called for.

      Interesting, though, that you are using turkey bacon in lieu of pancetta. I notice a lot of the recipes call for pancetta and I was just flipping past them. But, maybe I should consider using turkey bacon. Do you have a substitute you use when the recipe calls for pancetta that doesn't get cooked? (Some of those bruchetta/antipasto/mozz recipes call for pancetta "as is.")

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Hmmm, you might try (and I'm prepared to be yelled at by purists) smoked salmon? I realize the texture is totally off, but you're getting some of the sort of smokey quality. This may well show just how little I know about pancetta.

        Honestly, I felt like one of those people who gets yelled at on epicurious for my substitutions. At least I still loved the dish.

        1. re: LulusMom

          Hmmm...that is an interesting suggestion.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Of course for me the reason is more that I would rather stay away from red meat than a calorie issue (although lord knows I should probably be thinking that way too), so I try to find non-meat subs.

          2. re: LulusMom

            Pancetta is not smoked, so you are choosing a substitute to substitute for an ingredient that was a wrong substitute in the first place. If you don't want to use pancetta (or guanciale), use prosciutto or just extra-virgin olive oil.

            But really, when pancetta is a principal ingredient (which it often is not), why seek a substitute? Why not just turn the page and make a recipe with ingredients you have/like?

            1. re: mbfant

              That was my error in asking for a substitute for pancetta when I meant to say prosciutto. And A LOT of these recipes call for either pancetta or prosciutto. I found myself flipping past an awful lot of recipes, so, why not experiment and substitute in order to fit a recipe to your likes and needs rather than slavishly follow a recipe?

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                You should definitely give the prosciutto a go - I used three slices in my dish last night and I think the packet said it was 40 cals a slice so not a huge amount.

              2. re: mbfant

                Amen. Ingredient substitution is just wrong. Shut up and eat the pancetta or eat something else altogether.

                1. re: kappasan9

                  Hey, it's my kitchen, my dollar. I'll sub what I want, when I want, without apology. There is absolutely nothing wrong with cooking a dish the way I want to cook from it, as long as I don't blame the authors for any miserable failures resulting from my attempts at substitution. Following a recipe without using your brain is for the unimaginative.

                  In fact, as a group, we've had terrific success making substitutions in cooking from these books--lobster for crab, shrimp for crab, turkey bacon for prosciutto, lettuce instead of bruschetta, and so on.

                  I'm glad people are able to make the tweaks they need to make to these recipes in order to make it possible for them to participate in COTM and don't have to let their allergies or other restrictions stand in the way.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I'll take your substitutions over most people's by the book dish, TDQ. I don't know where kappasan9 gets the idea that substitution is "wrong." We're talking cooking not pharmaceutical manufacturing, right? Where I live I don't have access to pancetta without driving 50 miles ONE WAY. When I want carbonara, I use bacon. And it's damn fine :)

                    1. re: c oliver

                      A 100-mile round trip for pancetta - now that would be dedication! I also routinely use bacon for carbonara (although I can get pancetta from a deli 10 minutes walk from my house). However I did use pancetta the other day because I had some, and was surprised by the difference it made.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        That would require serious dedication to pancetta!

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Clearly you need to start curing your own pancetta! How far away is a lovely pork belly?

                          1. re: smtucker

                            Much farther than 100 miles round trip! I actually bought a nice big piece of pork belly from an Italian butcher in SF about six months ago. He gave me really good instructions for making pancetta. But then I wound up cutting it into 1# pieces and freezing for other purposes --- most of which haven't occurred YET :)

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Making your own pancetta sounds like "Italian Difficult" rather than "Italian Easy." Were the instructions pretty complicated?

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I'll have to ask again, but seems like it was do some seasoning, roll it up, tie it and hang in the fridge for some reasonable amount of time (two weeks?). He took me into his walk-in to show them hanging there but said it's easy to do at home. I loved this guy (and his son who was in the biz also). We got sweetbreads, pork belly (which he ordered in for me) and other goodies which escape me now. It's so great to talk to people who are still enthusiastic about what they do after a lifetime of doing it.

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Apparently homemade pancetta is not difficult, TDQ. It seems the most important thing is to cure it in the proper environment.
                                  Here's a thread from EGullet about the process:
                                  http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/...

                                  MIchael Ruhlman has written the book, " Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing :
                                  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASI...

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Now that would be a fun COTM, though it wouldn't be very inclusive for those who don't eat pork...

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Mario has a recipe for Guanciale on-line. That's similar to pancetta and the method is extremely simple:
                                      http://www.babbonyc.com/in-guanciale....

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Ah, I can give up a month for the fun of the group! ; )

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Lots of recipes in Charcuterie that don't include pork. The chicken and pesto sausage, dill pickles, lamb sausage... the list goes on. But some of the items have to cure longer than one month so it would have to be an overlay to other books.

                                          1. re: smtucker

                                            My husband will want to move in with one of you for that month ...

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              My husband won't want to share during that month. ;-) However, he would welcome houseguests in any month where a lot of vegetables need to be cooked and tasted.

                                              ~TDQ

                            2. re: kappasan9

                              Welcome to COTM. Sorry you didn't agree with\ my making subs. You'll find that as a group we all have our different quirks.

                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I think turkey bacon sounds good, but what about bresaola which is cured rather than smoked as is pancetta? You may have to adjust seasoning for saltiness, but I'll bet it would work especially well with the bruschetta.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Oh, yes, that sounds like an even closer substitution!

                            ~TDQ

                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                            How about parma ham/prosciutto? Actually, I think that's what those recipes call for anyway and you may have misread - you can't really serve pancetta raw. You can also cook prosciutto - Gordon Ramsay uses it a bit in his "healthy" book.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Dang, I was getting pancetta mixed up with prosciutto. Sorry everyone for perpetuating my confusion. What's a good (ie., lower calorie) substitution for prosciutto?

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I think the bresaola would work here as well since it's air cured lean beef and has much less fat than prosciutto.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Okay, whew, I'm glad that recommendation still sticks, thank you. This is the problem with posting while multi-tasking--I sometimes miss essential details.

                                  ~TDQ

                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  TDQ - just FYI, prosciutto is much less caloric and has less fat than pancetta and because it has strong flavor, a little goes a long way. For example, a quick search online indicates that a couple slices of prosciutto is about 70 calories and 2g sat fat compared to 2-3 times that for pancetta. Obviously, if you prefer to avoid pork, it's a moot point and Joan's suggestion of bresaola sounds good regardless.

                                  1. re: mebby

                                    mebby has just said exactly what I was going to say! You can definitely eat prosciutto in moderation without ruining your diet, AND use it as a sub for pancetta.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      Mebby has also said what I was going to say...several days later and before reading greedygirl's post. Yes, pancetta is, I would say, 2/3 fat. If you were really looking to cut fat content, you could discard the fat on the prosciutto.

                                      My husband is picking up my books at the lib. today! Wahoo.

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        Did you use interlibrary loan (Link+), Joan? I didn't see these listed in either Berkeley or Oakland's catalogs, which was a bit of a surprise. (I did see new copies of ITE at Pegasus at Shattuck and Durant for $11.99 last month, however.)

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          I thought I'd replied to Caitlin's post, but now can't find it. I noticed that Berk and Oak do not have the books, too. I think I saw that SF did. Turns out my husband didn't remember the names of the books and so didn't order through interlibrary. He's going to try when he gets home.

                                          We'll see.

                                          I should have bought both books when I saw them in Powell's in Portland last year....very cheap, but I was cheaper. Rats!

                                3. re: greedygirl

                                  Actually pancetta and guanciale can be served raw. Try a thin slice on a piece of warm toast or focaccia.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    Wrong. Pancetta can be eaten raw since it is salt/pepper cured. Cooking prosciutto is also wrong (most of the time) and Gordon Ramsay is clueless when it comes to authentic Italian food.

                                    1. re: kappasan9

                                      He's not claiming to be making an authentic Italian dish in this case. It seems though that you're taking a lesson from him in the attitude department.

                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Can you explain why you don't use pancetta? Is it the flavor you don't like, the cost, or do you not eat pork? That would help me, at least, think about what you might be able to substitute. (Later: Never mind; should have read on! I see your question has already been clarified and you've gotten some good suggestions.)

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Just out of curiosity.....why are you searching for a substitute for pancetta? When good quality and properly prepared it's one of the most delicious substances on the planet.

                                      1. re: mdzehnder

                                        I believe TDQ says above that she meant to say proscuitto, and that it was for caloric reasons.

                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                      They always specify red onions in their recipes. Sweeter, I guess.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        I've always found tremendous inconsistency in red onions I buy here in the States. Although they're supposedly sweeter than yellow onions (and crisper as well), I've found this is not always the case. There are lots of different varieties of red onions, but when I buy them at the market they're usually just all dumped in a bin labeled "red onions" with no indication of variety. Buying red onions has become, for me, such a crap shoot that I buy them now mostly when I'm more concerned about color than flavor.

                                      2. re: LulusMom

                                        I'm not sure it matters so much in a recipe like this, but would you mind telling me the amounts of ingredients the book calls for (i.e., how much ricotta and tomatoes to how much pasta). This is normally the kind of thing I'd just throw together to taste, but figure I might as well start from what the recipe says, given it's COTM.

                                        ETA: I'm talking about Orecchiette, tomato, ricotta.

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          Orecchiette, tomato, ricotta (p. 68 in ITE), measurements

                                          cherry tomatoes, 12 oz
                                          garlic clove, 1
                                          parm, 2 oz (edited to correct)
                                          basil leaves, 3 tbsp
                                          evoo, 1 tbsp
                                          ricotta, scant 1 cup
                                          orecchiette, 11 oz

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            Happily!

                                            12 oz cherry toms
                                            1 garlic clove (think I may double it)
                                            2 oz parm
                                            3 tbsp. basil
                                            1 tbsp olive oil
                                            scant 1 cup ricotta
                                            11 oz pasta

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              Thanks to you and TDQ both! I'm assuming TDQ has a typo and it's 2 oz parm, not 12 oz. These simple uncooked sauces are speaking to me now that local tomatoes are beginning to come in.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                HA! Yes, that's correct. See, now you had unintentional cross-checking!

                                                ~TDQ

                                        2. Garlic, Chiles, and Parsley, Pg. 69. Italian Easy

                                          And now for something completely different. For us, anyway. I make one or two pasta dishes each week and many times it's not with tomatoes but I've never had a sauce like this before so naturally had to try it.

                                          Garlic, dried chiles, a goodly amount of chopped parsley, EVOO, lemon juice and spaghetti. The instructions state to fry the sliced garlic, 6 large cloves, till soft but not brown. Many recipes warn people not to fry garlic too much fearing it will burn. I think they are frightened into not letting it get brown. Garlic tastes sweet when it is brown but not burnt. Anyway, The garlic and chiles are cooked in 1/2 cup of EVOO then lemon juice is squeezed over. I used the full amount of olive oil since that's virtually the whole sauce. The pan is removed from the heat and 10 T chopped parsley are mixed in. I just eyeballed it and used about 3/4 of a bunch I had on hand. The last instruction is, "Season." So.. I seasoned with sea salt, FGBP and... crushed red pepper flakes. When the spaghetti is cooked stir into the sauce. A little more oil is drizzled over.

                                          Verdict: Interesting for the experience. Not too much flavor in spite of the garlic and lemon. Will not make it again. Glad I did this once, though.

                                          13 Replies
                                          1. re: Gio

                                            So weird that it doesn't end up with much flavor. It sounds like the type of dish that would be very flavorful. Hmmm...well, thanks for taking one for the team.

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              Gio: Did you use Italian parsley? If not, that's probably the culprit. "Regular" curly parsley has almost no taste IMNSHO.

                                            2. re: Gio

                                              Yeah, really surprising with all that delicious stuff in it. As TDQ said, thanks for being the guinea pig - you saved me a meal, that's for sure.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                This is one of my favourite pasta dishes - I love it. I never add lemon though. Must try that. This is basically a variation of the classic olio e aglio e pepperoncini, no? Did you use the small, hot chillies?

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  HI GG. I did add the small hot chilies. The Thai chilies I have in the pantry. This dish didn't remind me of the aglio olio I make and even though I use pepperoncini I don't use all that parsley so the garlic flavor is more prominent. In all fairness I ought to admit that the addition of lemon juice, although surprising, was kinda nice. Perhaps I'll simply add lemon juice to my aglio olio in future.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    I had the same thought as GG as far as it sounding close to olio e aglio (to which I like to add parsley anyway) -- just curious, how did it differ in terms of proportions/method compared to your usual aglio olio? Sorry it didn't work out...

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      So was it the parsley you didn't like?

                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        Mebby & GG: The method was about the same as when I make my version of aglio olio. It was the overwhelming amount of parsley that made .the difference. DH had the leftovers for lunch yesterday and said his opinion hadn't changed. I had a couple of forkfuls and to tell the truth it wasn't bad....

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          That's interesting. I don't normally add parsley to my aglio olio either. I'm intruiged now and am going to have to give this a try.

                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                        I haven't read this whole thread so this may be redundant. Gio, what kind of parsley did you use? If it was the regular curly stuff it never has much flavor. I always buy the Italian type and have for many years. It really makes a difference in taste.

                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                          Hi Joan... I always use Italian flat leaf parsley. And I agree with you.. much more flavor than the curly. I think this time it was just TOO much of a good thing.

                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                      Did you use a decent brand of spaghetti? With a sauce like this, the predominant taste should be the pasta, with the sauce in the background. In fact, assuming you were using reasonably fresh garlic, the sauce should have provided a nice background to the subtle but discernible flavor of the pasta.

                                                      1. re: mbfant

                                                        Hi Maureen... Thank you for your comments! I used De Cecco which is the brand pictured in the photos of the finished dishes. I presumed that was the brand to use. Yes, I used fresh garlic which we buy at a local farm every week.

                                                    3. Tagliatelle (fettucine) with creme fraiche and arugula (IE p. 93)

                                                      Figured I'd take advantage of my arugula-hating husband being out of town and make this. I do find their naming choices sort of odd sometimes because I'd say the main element in this is the lemon which doesn't show up in the title. Anyway, I had to sub fettucine once again for the tagliatelle. Aside from that stuck with the recipe: grate peel of 2 lemons, then juice them and add all this to a cup of creme fraiche, season. They say to chop your arugula, but I had the baby stuff, and it didn't need chopping. Cook and drain the pasta, add the creme fraiche mixture, then the arugula and2 1/2 oz. grated parm. I was a little worried that this might be too lemony (there was a similar P. Wells recipe I made that I found a bit one note) but the pepperiness of the arugula really adds a lot. I liked it a lot, didn't love it. Lulu said she liked it a lot, and did a good job with a fairly large bowl. Photo when computer is fixed.

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        Yum! I can't wait to try this when we get arugula (again) in fall. Our spring arugula is done.

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          You might want to consider growing the so-called arugula selvatica - or "wild arugula" (its called by lots of different names in the seed catalog) -with the little leaves. this type - a different species - has small toothy leaves - not only does it seed in vigorously and new plants are popping up all the time but it is harvestable all through the summer if you keep it watered and picked (so it doest go to seed. I harvest some from my patch in Brooklyn almost every eveing for our dinner salad. Its also good on pizzas, in pasta preparations, sandwiches, etc. and is much less fragile than the big leaf classic arugula.

                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                            I just saw this. Great suggestion. Maybe I'll try this, as i really do love the flavor of arugula.

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                          Is it just me, or do an inordinate number of recipes in these books feature lemon as a main flavor ingredient?

                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                            I think the title of these books could be "Serve with Lemon and a Drizzle of Olive Oil."

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              Lol! From what I've been reading, you're probably right.

                                                            2. re: roxlet

                                                              Definitely! And lets face it, for most of us, there are only so many lemon pastas we want to eat in a month.

                                                            3. re: LulusMom

                                                              Quick update: my arugula hating husband got back from his week away and there was still some of this pasta left. He got home hungry at lunchtime. I offered this, he wasn't sure, but took it. He liked it! Very much!!

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                I liked this too but also found it a bit same same. Part of the problem, I'm sure, is that I didn't use a microplane. What was I thinking? If the heat of the pasta is doing all the cooking/melting, I definitely need to give it a leg up. Was still a tasty and easy (for me mostly local) dinner and I'd do it again. (Found more recipe specifics here: http://northeastlocavore.blogspot.com... btw.

                                                                )

                                                                As always, thanks to all the hounds who make COTM happen. I'm mostly a voyeur, but you inspire me anyway.

                                                                PS Totally agree on the lemon being the main note. And I had very flavorful arugula. I'm a bit of a one-note nellie myself, but I really think this could use some softly browned (or even roasted) garlic.

                                                                1. re: miss louella

                                                                  There was a pasta during the P. Wells month that was pretty similar but without the arugula. Man, that one was REALLY one note. And I do agree, that lemon sort of took over, but thank goodness for the arugula. That, for me, brought enough of a peppery-ness to it to keep it from being totally about the lemon. I do like your idea of adding some garlic.

                                                                  1. re: miss louella

                                                                    Maybe now we know why they dishes all seem to call for lemon AND garlic AND red pepper flakes AND a drizzle of olive oil: to keep it from being one note!

                                                                    Miss Louella, even though you're normally just reading along (or are you normally cooking along, too, but just quietly?), I'm glad you chimed in here. It's always great to have more voices, more perspectives. And, I echo your thanks to those who keep COTM running, all of those coordinators and steady regulars. I hope you continue to chime in as it suits you!

                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                2. [Spaghetti] Pea and Scallion: Italian Easy pg. 70

                                                                  This recipe calls for sauteeing scallions in lots of butter, then adding "Podded" peas ( I like that term!) and then cooking them practically to death...(I couldn't do that to my lovely fresh-frozen-from-the-garden peas, so I shortened the cooking time.) Then one is to add some chopped garlic and parsley, plus the by now ubiquitous extra virgin olive oil. Torn up prosciutto is added and then the whole is tossed with cooked spaghetti and served with grated parmesan.

                                                                  Well, first off, my local market, which usually has prosciutto, was out. But they did have pancetta, something I had never seen there before, and so had never cooked with, much less tasted. (I think I'm in love.) So I started by dicing the pancetta - I used .2 pounds, because that is what I ended up with at the deli, and sauteed it in a bit of olive oil. I then drained off most of the rendered fat and skipped the 7 tablespoons of butter. Then I added the scallions. Although I halved the amount of pasta and peas, I kept the other ingredients pretty much the same. Instead of adding olive oil, I added back some of the pancetta drippings and then a couple of gobs of butter were stirred in at the end with the pasta. Also, I added some of the parmesan so it would melt in, instead of merely serving it along side. I did sub linguine for the spaghetti.

                                                                  I thought I would be enjoying my naughty little concoction alone, and served myself up a big bowl. As I was finishing, Mr. Clam roused himself from his slumber and grabbed some for himself. Then he went back for more. I thought it was delicious. Loved, loved, loved the smokey flavor of the pancetta. So good with the sweet young peas.

                                                                   
                                                                  23 Replies
                                                                  1. re: clamscasino

                                                                    I thought the timing wrong on the recipe for Fava Beans and Peas, too. She has you cook them slowly in water to cover until the water is absorbed and then cooks them 5 minutes longer after the spinach is added. I couldn't do that either. What's that about with the overcooking of the peas do you think?

                                                                    Your dish looks heavenly. I'll bet it was even better than it would have been with Prosciutto. But 2 pounds of pancetta? Is that a typo?

                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                      There's a little tiny decimal point in front of the 2. Guess I should have written that as 0.2 lb.

                                                                      As to the overcooking of the peas? Maybe it's an English thing.... :} The recipe calls for cooking them for over 20 minutes in all, until "soft, and a dark green color."

                                                                      1. re: clamscasino

                                                                        Damn these aging eyes! At least I can still see a cookbook page. LOL

                                                                        1. re: clamscasino

                                                                          Hah... I screamed when I read two pounds of pancetta. Thank heavens you clarified. I always have pancetta in the fridge... in 2/3 lb pieces though. We love it and use either strips or diced in many dishes calling for ham hocks or bacon. It's great diced and used as a base with chopped garlic for a simple tomato/spaghetti sauce... either with fresh garden tomatoes or tinned. Go wild Clams.

                                                                          I've used up all my CSA peas but do have scallions and prosciuto in the fridge. I was going to make the rigatoni with cabbage on Friday with a fresh cabbage from the same CSA box, and I pledged not to buy any extra Veggies. It's worked so far. Perhaps I can cook up a pot o'dry beans before that... I'm sorely tempted. Which though? Split green, black or pinto. Hmmm...what would Mario do?
                                                                          Er, I mean Rose & Ruth.

                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                          The English like what they call "mushy peas" - something that just grosses me out (sorry GG!). Very over-cooked and perfectly named. I think in general they like their vegetables more cooked than we do.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            Mushy peas are not the same as podded peas though. They're made with dried marrowfat peas. I don't really like them either.

                                                                            And people, this is Italian Easy, not English Easy. Maybe it's how the Italians like their peas! We tend to simmer them briefly and serve with mint and butter. I am going to ask my new foodie friend Dario, who is a bonafide Italian who runs a fantastic little Italian cafe near my house.

                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                              Actually this is a good point. One of my best friends is Italian (as in not italian-american), and lived there for years. She prefers her peas the american way, but does say the italians tend to overcook them - the method she learned was cooking them (to death) with minced onions and butter.

                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                Good point. It may be that perhaps the Italians like their veg more cooked than our crisp, just cooked veg. This topic led me to an old COTM posting where some people felt that Marcella's veg recipes required excessive cooking and a couple people chimed in indicating that Italians cook their vegetables beyond al dente. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3257...
                                                                                I'm curious to hear what Dario opines.

                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                  Though Italians like many of their vegetables well-cooked, I have never, ever heard of an Italian recipe that recommends cooking peas to death.

                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                    I just checked out Marcella Hazan's recipe for early peas sautéed with prosciutto - she says fresh peas (as opposed to frozen) could take 15-30 minutes to cook.

                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                      Maybe they "could" take 15 minutes if they were old and starchy, but neither I nor any Italian I have ever known I cooked fresh peas that long. There are some points at which I disagree with Marcella, and this would certainly be one of them.

                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                        The Silver Spoon also says fresh peas should be boiled for 15-30 minutes, so obviously some Italians do cook fresh peas like that. Maybe it's a generational thing? I don't see anything wrong with sautéeing fresh peas over a low heat in a small amount of liquid for 15 minutes.

                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                          I knew there was a reason I never use that book! :-)

                                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                                            I was about ready to put it up on my Eat Your Books account but I think I am going to sell that behemoth instead.

                                                                            2. re: clamscasino

                                                                              I made the Pea and Spring Onion pasta tonight for supper and we both thought it was great. I halved the recipe but apart from that made it as written - including the controversial cooking of the peas (freshly podded, not frozen) for 15 minutes. I decided to have faith in Rose and Ruth, and Marcela et al and give them the benefit of the doubt and I'm glad I did because the peas were gorgeous - tender but not mushy and they'd really absorbed the flavors of the butter, parsley and olive oil. loved the prosciutto with this although I can see that pancetta would also work well.

                                                                              My only proviso is that the stated quantity of Parmesan is way too much - half would be plenty.

                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                But of course that’s only cuz you’re one of those mushy-pea-loving Brits, GG!

                                                                                The great pea controversy reminded me of a post I saw a while back where the great JC apparently called for boiling peas 20-30 minutes. If mushy peas are good enough for Julia, who are we to say otherwise?!
                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/704397

                                                                                All kidding aside, I think you have a interesting observation about the time and method really infusing the flavors and I’d be interested to try it. Fresh peas for podding, however, are pretty hard to come by this time of year in these parts, so will probably have to wait.

                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                  Not that I feel I need to defend myself here ;-), but the instruction that bothered me was ". . . add enough water to just cover. Season and cook slowly until the peas and beans [favas] are soft, and the liquid has been absorbed." No timing was given so I have no idea whether this was supposed to take 15 minutes or 30. But it must have been about 10 to 15 minutes later that not even half the water had been absorbed but the peas and beans were already soft.

                                                                                  I'm sorry this has turned into what my people would call a major megillah. It wasn't really a problem for me; I took it off the stove when I thought it was ready. But at least part of what COTM is all about is comparing notes and it was interesting to me that clamscasino thought, as did I, that the timing and/or instructions for cooking the peas was to be taken with more than just a dash of salt.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    Joan, you are absolutely right that the point is the discussion and comparing notes and I would have questioned that instruction exactly as you and others here have. And, frankly, that’s why I love Chowhound – where else could the great pea debate have taken place? I was really just indulging in a bit of fun, but my apologies if it came off wrong – I always love reading your reports for their detail, thoughtfulness and breadth of knowledge.

                                                                                    1. re: mebby

                                                                                      One thing I adore about the Home Cooking Board (as opposed to some others that shall remain nameless) is that apologies are never, ever necessary here. Diversity of opinion is not presented in a judgmental way but rather as a way to further our knowledge about something we're all passionate about.

                                                                                      Love your phrase. Will the month of Italian Easy be known forever after as The Great Pea Debate?

                                                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                                                      I've also noticed the lack of time guidelines with some of these recipes and wish there were more specifics, if nothing else than to help you plan your meal a little.

                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        This recipe has you add only three tbsp of water (I'd halved the recipe, so added two) and it evaporates pretty quickly. I have cooked fresh peas and broad beans using the method you used for a Moro recipe (Spanish with N African influences) though and they usually turn out pretty well. However you're supposed to have liquid left at the end for that one.

                                                                                    3. re: clamscasino

                                                                                      Clams - I like your version. Sounds and looks delicious. Its definitely something I will try. Like the idea of pancetta. And I don't like my peas overcooked either!

                                                                                      1. re: boyzoma

                                                                                        Gah! They weren't overcooked at all. I would only use this method with fresh peas though - if frozen I would cut the cooking time a bit as I tend to only buy frozen petits pois.

                                                                                    4. Pappardelle, tomato, pancetta (I2E, p. 72)

                                                                                      Tomatoes are peeled and chopped. A tremendous amount of butter (10 Tbsp for 4 people) is melted and pancetta is added. Then peeled and chopped tomatoes are cooked for 10 minutes, cream is added and cooked for 10 minutes more. Add to cooked papparedelle. Stir in half the parmesan and serve with the remaining parmesan.

                                                                                      OK, so lovely inspiration about the beautiful summer produce and all, but for me this was battle of the supermarket ingredients. Supermarket roma tomatoes, TJ's pre-cubed pancetta, some TJ's "Australian parmesan" that I think I must have picked up by mistake. Definitely not the finest ingredients.

                                                                                      I picked this recipe as a potentially family-friendly one for a hectic Sunday. My son is *not* a big fan of tomato sauces and thought this might be a nice "gateway drug" with its lovely pink tone and pancetta. In looking at this recipe I saw the pancetta and heavy cream and parmesan, but somehow overlooked the 10 (TEN!) Tbsp of butter. Just as I was starting, my husband walked by and visibly gasped at the butter (and he’s a solid Midwest guy who is not afraid of a bit of fat and neither of us are “diet people” but we do try to moderate the craziness). Somehow I had overlooked this little detail and it kinda sent the dish over the edge for me. I do agree with others that the names of some of these recipes are a little misleading (of course it’s the fault of the recipe, not the inattentive cook!). I probably should have realized that the aforesaid pink tone meant a lot of fat – and/or read the recipe more carefully -- but somehow I didn’t. This was pretty much a heart attack on a plate – delicious but not where I would probably invest my caloric/fat overload in future (for that I prefer more spice and a bit more exotic flavor profiles), but it was quite good. I would probably make again for the kids, but not for us. Mr. Mebs agreed that it was really good, but not good enough to justify all that butter and fat.

                                                                                      EDIT: Forgot to say that super-picky kids LOVED it and approved of the creamy non-tomato-ness of it as well as that porky goodness. Really was good, just not ultimately worth it for the grown ups in the house.

                                                                                      22 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: mebby

                                                                                        Pappardelle, Tomato, Pancetta, Pg. 72, Italian Two Easy

                                                                                        We interrupted the regularly scheduled October 2011 COTM to make this pasta dish last night. In my hot little hands I held a 17.2 oz, package of imported fresh pappardelle and wanted a simple recipe which would enhance the fine quality of the fresh pasta. After looking feverishly on EYB and through both The Splendid Table and The Italian Country Table I decided to go to the River Café books. It's a good thing I didn't have time to see the reviews first or I would have been discouraged because for us it was an absolutely delicious meal.

                                                                                        After reading the recipe several times I decided not to use 10 Tablespoons of butter but 5T and 5 T olive oil. I used: 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/2 & 1/2 instead of heavy cream, pancetta amd Parmigiano from our local salumeria, and of necessity used 14 oz. tinned Kitchen Ready tomatoes...the other 14 oz. having been opened for TST's braised pork recipe on Sunday last. Even though I had a little over 6 oz. more of the pasta than called for I did not increase the amounts of the ingredients.

                                                                                        Bottom line: This was quite possibly the Best tasting pasta dish I have ever eaten. Ever. Minimally sauced, creamy, lightly salty (I used less salt then pepper because of the abundance of pancetta), a bit of "after-heat" from the pepperoncino. Simply stunning.

                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                          >This was quite possibly the Best tasting pasta dish I have ever eaten. Ever.

                                                                                          WOW. Gio, that is amazing.

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            It Is amazing, LLM. G & I were so surprised as we began eating. Just about strand by strand...not twirling but simply folding over on itself each 1 1/2" strand having sliced through the long strand with side of fork to shorten it and thus prolong the experience. . Savoring each bite. Not talking. Just enjoying the flavor and delicate but al dents texture of the pasta. It took all of 4 1/2 minutes for the pappardelle to reach that al dents stage after the salted water came to the boil. That's how fresh it was. We are still talking about it this morning... Brought back memories of my Aunt Madeline making fresh pasta on our downstairs kitchen table before a holiday. .

                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                              I made this for dinner tonight, including making pappardelle, and while it was good, I don't think I'd crown it the best pasta ever. That honor goes to a pappardelle with wild boar sauce I had in Florence last time I was there. I wish I had been at your house, Gio, to taste what you tasted.

                                                                                              As I said, I made pappardelle, and then I made the sauce. I put the butter and olive oil in the pan and started cooking the guanciale die (I didn't have pancetta). By the time that was done, I felt I had far too much oil in the pan, so I took the guanciale out, poured out all the fat (which was a little too brown for my taste), wiped out the pan, and started over with 2 tablespoons each of oil and butter. I added some hot pepper flakes, some crushed tomatoes, and let that cook a bit before adding the cream. I added the parm when I added the pappardelle, and like you, I felt this was quite enough. Would the pancetta make that much of a difference? I somehow don't think so. I was good, but I'm not sure I would make it again!

                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                You know, I always find it fascinating how things turn out differently not only in different homes, but on different nights. Things I've raved about one time have been complete busts another. Just goes to show. I'm determined to make this pasta, even as a dumb old non-pancetta eater (but going to go for that duck bacon you recommended!).

                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                  Oh gosh... well, I knew this would happen Roxlet.

                                                                                                  The fat in our pan after the butter/oil/pancetta was not brown and the final dish was not at all oily. I guess the stars were aligned that night and all the components came together perfectly, for us. BTW, pappardalle with wild boar sauce... I'm in...!

                                                                                            2. re: Gio

                                                                                              That sounds great, Gio. The best ever??!! I want to make this! I don't have the book, so could you give us the amonts of heavy cream, pancetta, and parm?

                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                Pancetta: 5 oz - 1/4 inch dice

                                                                                                Heavy cream: 2/3 cup

                                                                                                Parmigiano: 3 1/2 oz. - divided

                                                                                                Here's the thing with the Parm: In the recipe half the grated cheese is added to the sauce after the drained pasta goes in. The other half measure is served at table. I used just the 1/2 half measure in the sauce. We didn't need any further addition of grated cheese at table.

                                                                                              2. re: Gio

                                                                                                Wow, that is high praise indeed coming from you, Gio! I am glad to hear that I did not discourage you. I have no doubt that you're vastly superior ingredients made a huge difference to my flat supermarket versions and you may have me inspired to make another pass at this when I have the good stuff.

                                                                                                1. re: mebby

                                                                                                  Agree, mebby. I know it will make most of you cringe, but I'm considering it with turkey bacon. Gio just made it sound so incredibly good.

                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                    @ mebby: I think it was the incredible fresh pappardelle that made the dish. I used the tinned tomatoes a) because I didn't have 6 plum tomatoes and b) I did have those Pastenes... Also, the parmigiano comes from our local Italian store whom I trust implicitly to have the best at the most reasonable prices.

                                                                                                    @ LulusMom: I've had turkey bacon many times and it tastes fine. Although the sodium content is high, or so I've read. Try it... it will add its own unique characteristic.

                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                        the only thing is, it may taste good with turkey bacon but it will not taste the same as pancetta, which is not smoked and is usually seasoned with black pepper and a bit of sweet spice - clove,cinnamon perhaps, its variable.

                                                                                                        1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                          Yes, I realize there are always trade off if you don't eat pork. I'm willing to chance it.

                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                            Have you ever tried duck bacon? I think that D'Artagnan makes an excellent version. They also make a very credible duck prosciutto, which I have used with my Muslim guests. Maybe more expensive than the supermarket turkey bacon, but a better substitution, IMHO.

                                                                                                            1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                              For a while, our local WFs refused to sell duck of *any* sort (so no duck proscuitto). Not sure where they're standing on that issue these days. But yes, I should definitely look into D'Artagnan. I love duck. Thanks for the tip!

                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                something cured (like the duck prosciutto) might indeed work better than something smoked. but this dish reads a little like a amartriciana with some dairy added. Maybe if you made the tomato sauce with some butter or olive oil and aromatic veg (similar to Kaspers's winter tomato sauce in TST you could delete the meat component altogether.

                                                                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                                                                    Gio, I wish I had been at your house to taste this! I made it tonight, and while it was good, I am afraid I can't say it's the best tasting pasta dish I've had.

                                                                                                    I made my own pappardelle, and then made the sauce. I had guanciale, not pancetta, though I don't think it would make that big a difference. After browning the guanciale die, I thought there was far too much fat in the pan, so I poured it all off and wiped out the pan before adding 2 tablespoons each of butter and oil, and crushed tomatoes and let that cook down. I added the cream about 10 mins before I cooked the pappardelle. Like you, I felt that the amount of parmigiana added with the pappardelle was plenty.

                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                      Weird, my first post on this didn't show up, so I thought I hadn't hit the "Post My Reply" button, so I posted again. Not trying to pile on to my own post! Sorry about that!

                                                                                                  3. re: mebby

                                                                                                    My husband is away, and instead of yet another dinner out, I picked a few different recipes from this book and asked Lulu which one she'd like us to make together. And she picked the Pappardelle, Tomato, Pancetta. So after dropping her off at school this morning I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up the ingredients. Had to go with turkey bacon (none of that great sounding duck stuff), and canned but good italian plum tomatoes. And perhaps those subs are the reason I wasn't in love with this dish (sorry Gio!). But my guess is that it was just a little bit *too* rich. For 11 oz. of pasta you have 10 tablespoons of butter, 2/3 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of parmesan, and the turkey bacon. As mebby put it: a heart attack on a plate. Like her, I somehow had missed this vital bit of information. Lulu absolutely loved it, and asked for another heaping bowl. I had a hard time getting through one bowl (and I'm *not* picky about fats!) due to the richness. Again to quote mebby: really was good, just not worth it for the grown ups in the house.

                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                      Well, LLM... I'm glad you at least tried it.

                                                                                                      <..."to quote mebby: really was good, just not worth it for the grown ups in the house.">
                                                                                                      To quote Peter Pan, "I won't grow up, (I won't grow up) I don't want to go to school. (I don't want to go to school)." Just being silly here.

                                                                                                      As we say so often, "De gustibus non disputandum est." I did use half the butter recommendation and added some olive oil. I don't know if that had much effect on the "richness" or not. Considering I'm the only one who loved this preparation I better go back and remake it and see if it's just as tasty the second time around. Also, for the record I've been using the Pomi tomatoes lately instead of my favorite Pastene Kitchen Ready. Wanted to get away from those canned goods. So those will be used this time.

                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                        I think using half olive oil would have made a huge difference for me (or even cutting back on the fat all together). And again, probably using turkey bacon didn't help, although I think it was the overall richness that was my main problem. And Lulu (who met Tinkerbelle last weekend!!!) totally loved it.