The picture of linguine with clams, almost ready, posted by Riccardo Felicetti on his Instagram account, made me crave some spaghetti of the same kind, a crave I satisfied at Pizzaccia on the beach on Lungomare della Repubblica in Grottammare in the province of Ascoli Piceno, tel. +39.0735.735655.

Even though the recipe is virtually essential, there are some choices to be made, starting from the format: spaghetti, linguine or trenette? I prefer trenette, yet this is just because I’m being nostalgic of the last century when I spent my holidays in Levanto. For sure, I don’t enjoy thin formats.

The second question: with or without tomato? Without. Italians tend to add tomato everywhere. Not using it is not always a bad idea. And I don’t love parsley sprinkled on top before serving the dish. But I do like a garlic clove.

Third, the most important choice: clams or mussels? I prefer the former, but I believe this is a personal preference.

Last issue: with or without the shells? Of course they must be opened in the pan, but what next? Since I hate having greasy hands, and I disapprove of wipes instead of a bowl with some hot water and a lemon wedge, I’d like to avoid the shells. After all, once you’ve pulled out every mussel, the dish is cold. And if everything is prepared in advance, in the kitchen, there are other options. In the end, doing it yourself is the lesser evil.

Of course, if I think of When Harry Met Sally, I prefer him, Harry, but I know I exaggerate and I’m as fussy as she is. The point is, I take food seriously, so why should I settle for less?

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta

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Monograno Felicetti 
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Newsletter 68 del 14 august 2018

Dear {{NOME}},

The picture of linguine with clams, almost ready, posted by Riccardo Felicetti on his Instagram account, made me crave some spaghetti of the same kind, a crave I satisfied at Pizzaccia on the beach on Lungomare della Repubblica in Grottammare in the province of Ascoli Piceno, tel. +39.0735.735655.

Even though the recipe is virtually essential, there are some choices to be made, starting from the format: spaghetti, linguine or trenette? I prefer trenette, yet this is just because I’m being nostalgic of the last century when I spent my holidays in Levanto. For sure, I don’t enjoy thin formats.

The second question: with or without tomato? Without. Italians tend to add tomato everywhere. Not using it is not always a bad idea. And I don’t love parsley sprinkled on top before serving the dish. But I do like a garlic clove.

Third, the most important choice: clams or mussels? I prefer the former, but I believe this is a personal preference.

Last issue: with or without the shells? Of course they must be opened in the pan, but what next? Since I hate having greasy hands, and I disapprove of wipes instead of a bowl with some hot water and a lemon wedge, I’d like to avoid the shells. After all, once you’ve pulled out every mussel, the dish is cold. And if everything is prepared in advance, in the kitchen, there are other options. In the end, doing it yourself is the lesser evil.

Of course, if I think of When Harry Met Sally, I prefer him, Harry, but I know I exaggerate and I’m as fussy as she is. The point is, I take food seriously, so why should I settle for less?

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta

Manzoni: Pasta with tomato sauce from the hills of Bergamo

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This dish was created by Alex Manzoni, executive chef at Casual in Bergamo, one of Enrico Bartolini’s restaurants. He presented it at Identità Milano 2018. «It’s Spaghettoni with tomato extract, caper leaves, sage, and pine nuts», explains Manzoni, «that is to say our take on Pasta al pomodoro. It does not aim to compete with this great classic. Indeed it has completely different flavours and pairings».

«The idea is to give value to the tomatoes that grow on the hills of Città Alta, our ‘neighbours’. We used two popular tomatoes here, Beef tomatoes and Date tomatoes. The former give texture and sweetness, the latter juiciness and acidity». «The special feature of this dish is it gives a “new” flavour to pasta, by using a classic French technique, brown stock, hence the tomatoes are first toasted and then the flavours are extraced by using their water, thus concentrating their flavour. The liquid is acid, with bitter notes and a flavour similar to caramel».

The yield to make this product is extremely low: «Out of 50 kg of tomatoes we make some two litres of stock. Then we pair it with typical local products: caper leaves, pine nuts and sage».

Spaghettoni with tomato extract, caper leaves, sage and pine nuts

Recipe for 4 people
INGREDIENTS
320 g Spaghettone Monograno Felicetti
5g powdered dry coriander
Parmigiano Reggiano matured 24 months
Extra virgin olive oil Particella 34
salt
20 g toasted pine nuts
100 g pine nut emulsion
24 caper leaves cut with a pastry-cutter

For the tomato extract
5 kg beef tomatoes
2.5 kg date tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh oregano
1 bunch of basil
2 garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil

For the sage sauce
150 g clean sage leaves
30 g sparkling water
ice
1.5 g gelatine sheets

METHOD
for the tomato extract
Dice the tomatoes and toast them in a pot with oil, so they stick for three times. Add garlic, basil, fresh oregano, and cover with water. Extract for 2 hours and strain. Reduce the stock until it is 300 g in weight. This will be the necessary quantity to mix the spaghetti. The stock will be dark and thick. Leave to rest for two days in the fridge before using it, so that the extract matures, the juices of the tomato become more prominent.

for the sage sauce
Blanch the sage in lots of salted water for 2 minutes, cool in water and ice. Blend with some sparkling water and ice, strain and add some gelatine sheets previously soaked and melted in a little water.

For the spaghetti
Cook the spaghetti in lots of salted water. Prepare the sauce with the tomato extract, the dry coriander and a little salt. Once the pasta is cooked, mix with tomato, extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano.

Finishing
Spread the sage sauce on the plate, place the spaghetti with tomato extract on top, garnish with pine nut emulsion, toasted pine nuts and caper leaves.

Fais: my take on linguine with prawns

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«Our linguine with prawns», says Pierluigi Fais, chef at Josto in Cagliari, «are born as a tribute to a great Italian classic, often subjected to bad cooking or issues with the mantecatura».

«Pasta with prawns can be very satisfying but in order to leave some nice memories we use a few tricks. The first goal is to extract as much as possible from the prawns, without making the dish heavy and nauseating, avoiding overcooking. Even the final mixing with the sauce is important; craft pasta, during this phase, releases lots of starch and absorbs lots of liquid so we avoid prolonging this step».

«The dish has three major components: prawn sauce, made with the heads, linguine cooked and delicately mixed with garlic, oil and chilli pepper, and a prawn tartare, slightly lukewarm and marinated».

Linguine with prawns

Recipe for 4 people

Ingredients
320 g craft linguine
16 red prawns size III (we’ll use the heads and tails removing the intestine)
2 garlic cloves
half an onion
250 peeled or fresh tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh herbs (marjoram, mint, lemon basil)
1 lemon (we’ll use the lemon zest and juice)

Method
for the prawn juice
In a pot, we stew tomatoes, onion and a garlic clove for 20/25 minutes. We then add the prawn heads and continue to cook for 1 minute. We add herbs, lemon zest and leave to cool as fast as possible. We extract the cold sauce with a juice extractor removing garlic, herbs and lemon zest, and then keep the sauce in the fridge.

for the prawn tartare
With the clean tails, we prepare a rough tartare and marinate the tails in oil, salt, pepper and only at the end a few drops of lemon juice.

Linguine and dishing out
After cooking the pasta al dente in lots of salted water, we drain it and pour it in a pan where we have previously warmed up some oil with a garlic clove and some chilly pepper. We then mix carefully, removing from the stove, and finally adding the tartare so as to leave it almost raw. For the dishing out, in a bowl with some prawn juice we add some rolled linguine and the tartare.

Fusilloni from Cannavino instead of coffee

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This first course by Davide Cannavino, chef at La Meridiana in Genoa, is full of character, based on the contrast between the sour and smoky notes of the vinegar, the iodine note of the mussels and the sweet peas.

«It was born after the playful complaints of a dear client», says the chef from Genoa, «who asked me a more daring dish instead of coffee, after tasting an entire 10-course tasting menu... The feedback was so positive, even on other occasions, that even these days the dish is still in the menu».

Fusilloni, sour smoked butter, peas and mussels

Recipe for 4 people
280 g fusilloni
60 g butter
40 g apple vinegar
200 g fresh peas
500 g mussels
1 teaspoon of Worchester sauce
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method
Smoke the vinegar in a bowl placed over a pot with dry sage, bay leaves and rosemary, for 10 minutes over a moderate heat. Blanch the peas for 5 minutes in salted water. Cool them in water and ice and peel them. Blend half of the peas with a drop of oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Open the mussels in boiling water. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, add vinegar and mix. Cook the fusilloni in salted water, drain them and toss them in the pan with the sour butter and the Worchester sauce. On a plate, place the cream of peas, the peas and the mussels. Place the fusilloni on top.

Parravicini: spaghetti show their mussels

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«The idea for this dish», says Francesco Parravicini, chef at Palmaria Restaurant in Porto Venere (La Spezia), part of Grand Hotel Portovenere, «came from the philosophy on which my approach to cooking is based. First rule: simplicity and strong attention to high quality raw materials, impeccable procedures, and a touch of innovation».

«I use spaghetti from Martelli, a pasta producer from Lari (Pisa): he makes pasta with wheat of the highest quality and the cooking is masterfully "al dente". I finish cooking the spaghetti in the pan with the sauce, made by whisking the cooking water from the mussels with raw extra virgin olive so as to preserve its features and aromas. The muscoli (literally muscles, this is the word used for mussels in La Spezia) are opened and shelled. Dill, an unusual note replacing parsley, added at the very end, enhances the sapidity. Chilli pepper gives a further touch of character».

Spaghetti with mussels from La Spezia

Recipe for 4 people

Ingredients
350 g Spaghetti dei Martelli
1200 g mussels from La Spezia
80 g extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
300 g date tomatoes
20 g fresh dill
pepper and chilli pepper

Method
Cut the garlic clove in half, remove the heart and gently fry in oil. Add the mussels, previously cleaned, and cook with a lid on top until they’re open; collect the mussels and the cooking liquid carefully straining it. Blanch the date tomatoes in boiling water, peel and dice them; add the cooking water whisked with extra virgin olive oil using a hand blender. Cook the spaghetti in lots of salted water, then toss them in the pan with the mussels, their water, the date tomatoes, some ground pepper and chilli pepper. Add some dill only at the very end.

Aubergine, bone marrow and prawn: contrasts at Zia

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«In this first course», says Antonio Ziantoni, chef at Zia Restaurant, one of the most successful recent openings in Rome «my love for contrasts stands out, together with my passion for French cuisine and its meat-seafood pairings. In this case, I use bone marrow and red prawns. Aubergines are in season and are a good match with the other ingredients. It helps me give a smoky note to the dish. I chose spaghetti because they’re an emblem of Italy».

Spaghetti aubergine, bone marrow and red prawn

Recipe for 4 people

For the bone marrow
1/2 kg of bones with beef bone marrow
2 carrots
celery
onion
cloves
star anise
white wine

Cook the beef bones with carrots and celery for one and a half hours in the oven at 180°C. Add the white wine. Remove the marrow. Collect the jus oozed from the meat.

For the aubergines
3 aubergines

Cook the aubergines in a whole piece on the BBQ and peel them. Process them in a termomix. Strain and charge a syphon adding salt, pepper and oil.

For the red prawns
10 red prawns

Clean the red prawns. Chop the prawns with oil, salt and pepper.

Making the bisque
Use the shells from the red prawns to make a bisque. Toast the shells in the oven with a drop of oil. Put them into a pot with fennel, salt, tarragon and some tomato concentrate. Cover with water and ice. After half an hour strain and reduce.

For the bone marrow, beef jus and red prawn bisque
Previously cooked bone marrow
Beef jus
Red prawn bisque

Method

In a Termomix blend the bone marrow with 70% of the beef jus and 30% of the prawn bisque. Cook 280 grams of spaghetti Benedetto Cavalieri in lots of salted water. Drain and mix the pasta with the previously blended bone marrow, beef jus and prawn bisque.

Dishing out
Place the mousse of aubergines on the plate, add a nest of spaghetti and the raw red prawns.

Spaghetti alla Nerano by Del Sorbo

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«The story of Spaghetti alla Nerano», says Marco Del Sorbo, 32, chef at Terrazza Fiorella in Massa Lubrense, near Sorrento «is still not very clear. According to the most established legend, in the early Fifties prince Caravita di Sirignano arrived with a group of friends at Marina del Cantone in the late afternoon. Maria Grazia, after whom the restaurant is named, didn’t have much to offer so she mixed some fried courgettes and spaghetti, and then added grated left over cheese (caciocavallo and ricotta di fuscella)».

This is how the most famous specialty on the Peninsula and Coast was born: «Many insist that the dish was born with provolone del monaco, but this only became popular in the Eighties. Until then it was only a specialty in Agerola, whose people would sell the noble cheese in Naples». Del Sorbo adds his touch: «The recipe has a thousand variations: some add egg, some cream, some cook it in the pan, thinking that the spaghetti must release their starch to create the cream. Indeed, the mantecatura is its magic trick. And temperature». The following version is not revolutionised, but simplified.

Spaghetti alla Nerano

Recipe for 4 people

Ingredients
350 g spaghetti 
600 g courgettes (6 more or less, possibly organic)
4 courgette flowers
100 g grated Parmigiano
50 g butter
1 garlic clove
salt
pepper

Method
Slice the courgettes in slices around 2 mm thick. Fry the courgettes at 150°-160°C. When they become golden, remove them from the pan and dry them on kitchen paper, better still if you put them in the oven at 100°C so as to dry even more oil.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta (around 8-9 minutes, depending on the producer) in lots of salted water. In a large bowl, rub the garlic clove on the inside, add the courgettes with salt, the spaghetti, the butter cut into small pieces, add the cheese, the pepper and finally a ladle of cooking water. Mix with a large fork.

Place the spaghetti on the plates, decorate with courgette flowers cut into strips, and if you wish add some more cheese. The trick is that by this time the temperature is around 70°-80°C, perfect for the mantecatura.

Avallone travels from Cetaria to Spilinga

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«My journey from Gragnano, near Naples, to Spilinga, in Calabria», says Salvatore Avallone from restaurant Cetaria in Baronissi (Salerno), «is made of Linguine (Pastificio Dei Campi) with cream of courgettes, colatura di alici di Cetara, peperone crusco and 'nduja sauce».

The idea: «It was born from the wish to create a connection between my land and that of Federica Gatto, my partner in life and in business. 400 km separate my home from hers, and during the journey we often stop in search of typical products or unusual recipes. Pasta di Gragnano, colatura and anchovies from Cetara, herbs from the Mediterranean bush, peperone crusco from Basilicata, 'nduja di Spilinga and courgettes "sempreverdi" from Calabria are a perfect summary of my cuisine made of contrasts and strong flavours: sweet, savoury, spicy and hot are in perfect balance».

Journey from Gragnano to Spilinga

Recipe for 4 people
320 g linguine
4 medium sized courgettes
4 teaspoons of colatura di alici di Cetara
4 desalted anchovy filets
50 g ‘nduja
4 dry peperoni cruschi
1 garlic clove
herbs to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Method
In a casserole tin, fry a garlic clove without its heart in lots of extra virgin olive oil. Add the diced courgettes, some parsley, sage, thyme and a glass of water without salt. Finish the cooking and process with a hand blender, adding ice cubes and strain with a colander so the result is a smooth cream.

In un blender, blend the 'nduja with a drop of extra virgin olive oil, strain the resulting sauce and place it in the fridge. Fry the peperoni cruschi in hot oil for 10 seconds, then leave them to cool so they are nice and crispy. Cook the linguine in lots of unsalted water. When they’re 3/4 through the cooking, toss them in the pan with the cream of courgettes and once the cooking is completed, add anchovy colatura to taste.

Dish out pouring the 'nduja sauce on the base of the plate, then place a nest of linguine on top, garnishing with pieces of peperone crusco, filets of deboned anchovies and finally sprouts of aromatic herbs.

Mattara’s paccheri: there’s fish, but it’s hidden

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«This recipe», says Stefano Mattara, executive chef at Sottovoce, a restaurant inside hotel Vista, on Lake Como, «was born from the desire to create a pasta course with fish, but hidden. This is why I decided to close it inside the paccheri. It has a strong but balanced flavour». A colourful dish, a hymn to the excellence of our peninsula recalled through its colours too.

Paccheri di Gragnano filled with baccalà mantecato, earth of olives, raw tomato, cherry tomatoes confit and air of parsley

Recipe for 4 people

INGREDIENTS
24 paccheri di Gragnano

for the baccalà
200 g baccalà, salted cod
4 wild garlic cloves
150 g boiled and mashed potato
100 g parsley
250 g fresh milk

for the olive earth
250 g black taggiasche olives, deboned

for the cherry tomatoes confit
12 cherry tomatoes
salt to taste
icing sugar
1 wild garlic clove
zest of 2 lemons
zest of 2 limes
zest of 2 oranges
4 thyme sprigs

For the raw tomato
150 g San Marzano tomato purée
2,5 g xantana
salt
black pepper

for the air of parsley
500 g water
400 g parsley
2.5 g Sucro
5 g soya lecithin

METHOD
We start from the longest process to the quickest one. Take the taggiasche olives, drain them and place them on a baking tin once they are nicely dry. Bake at 100°C, in a ventilated oven, and leave to dehydrate. Once cold, process them in a blender so the result looks like earth. Take the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half, place them on a baking tin with baking paper, and season with sugar, salt, citrus fruit zest and crushed garlic. Bake at 100°C in a ventilated oven until they are slightly dehydrated. Leave to cool.

Chop half a bunch of parsley, keeping the stalks and the rest. Put in 500 g of boiling water, cook for 15 minutes and then blend with a hand blender. Add Sucro and lecithin and whisk with the mixer until you get a stable foam.

Baccalà. Remove the skin and put it in a pan with extra virgin olive oil and chopped garlic (remove the heart), cook on a low flame until it breaks, then add milk and chopped parsley, cook some 10 minutes extra. Add the potato and mix fast with a whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous. Add salt to taste. Put the baccalà in a sac-a-poche.

Whisk the tomato purée with salt, pepper and xantana and put it into a bottle. Cook the paccheri for 15 minutes in salted water and drain them on a baking tin with a drop of oil. Fill with baccalà. On the plate, draw some dots in different sizes with the tomato sauce, then scatter the olive earth and place the cherry tomatoes confit. Place the paccheri standing on the plate, and on each one of them add the foam of parsley, decorating with fresh baby spinach leaves.

Viviani and pasta e fagioli against the heat

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«This dish», says Paolo Viviani from Cascina Faletta in Casale Monferrato (Alessandria) – is good for a hot and sultry summer too, like this one. It’s lukewarm pasta, and not banal, with three of my favourite ingredients. A dish my clients have always loved».

Pasta, beans, burrata and red prawns from Sicily

Recipe for 4 people

Ingredients
12 paccheri rigati
16 red prawns
200 g burrata
200 g borlotti beans soaked in water for 24 hours
1 celery stick
1 carrot
1 onion
1 potato
Extra virgin olive oil
the zest of half a lemon, chopped and blanched 
Maldon salt
pepper
chilli pepper
herbs and edible flowers

Method
Cook the paccheri very al dente. Leave them to cool with a drop of oil, at room temperature. Clean the prawns and make a bisque with the heads – keep it warm. Cook celery, carrot, onion, potato and beans, then blend them so as to make a purée, not too liquid, and keep warm.

Fill the paccheri half with burrata, half with the prawns cut into pieces and seasoned with salt, pepper, oil and blanched lemon zest. Pour the warm bean purée on the plate, place the stuffed paccheri on top, add a touch of lukewarm bisque and garnish with herbs, flowers, some pieces of prawns, chilli pepper, not too hot, and extra virgin olive oil.