Did you know Oct. 25, 2012, is World Pasta Day? Why not throw a spaghettata tonight or this weekend — or anytime, really? Chances are you have all the simple ingredients you need for a delicious pasta dish already on hand!
Summer is for barbecuing, but now that it's fall, why not make hosting super simple and fun by throwing a spaghettata? What is a spaghettata, you ask? It's an informal dinner gathering over a family-style pasta dish. It's all about being casual, focusing on the simple but yummy pasta and socializing with friends and family, says three-time bestselling cookbook author and chef Stefano Faita, who's also a spokesperson for Barilla. "And typically you'd serve spaghetti, but really, you can serve any type of pasta you like," he says.
To add to the spaghettata atmosphere:
- Play some Italian music on your iPod.
- Make some Italian appetizers (bruschetta, perhaps, or prepare a charcuterie board of Italian meats such as prosciutto).
- Serve an Italian wine with your pasta.
A few tips from Faita on cooking for your spagettata:
- Use lots of water for cooking the pasta. "And season the water well with salt. It might seem like quite a bit, but it's fine," he says, estimating about a tablespoon of salt for 6 litres of water.
- One box of spaghetti feeds about five people.
- For your basil, Faita prefers to keep the leaves whole — "I like to keep it as simple as possible," he says — but you can chop it if you like.
- He suggests smashing your garlic cloves, browning them in the oil and then removing them before continuing with the recipe. This is so that the oil gets flavoured with garlic, he explains. If you like, chop them and mix them into the sauce later.
- It's better to err toward the pasta being a little extra al dente, says Faita, since the pasta will cook a little more once you mix it with your sauce.
- Add sauce sparingly. "In Canada we tend to over-sauce," he says. If anything, keep a bowl of additional sauce on the side so each guest can add more if they wish to.
And if you're looking for a pasta recipe for your spaghettata, this simple one Faita developed for Barilla is sure to please your guests.
Barilla rotini with cherry tomatoes and ricotta salata
- 1 box Barilla rotini
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 12 basil leaves, fine chiffonade
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups black or kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- 2-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 150 grams ricotta salata or pecorino Romano (shredded)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, mix together the garlic, basil, oil, olives and cherry tomatoes. Reserve. Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling, and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Add the pasta, and mix well. Finally, toss in the shredded ricotta salata. Mix and serve.
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