A very simple 10-minute pasta dish that does not look much but packs a punch of flavours. The quickness comes especially useful when I have to feed my hangry wife. One tip is to allow the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce, so that starch from the pasta thickens the sauce.
1 min of preparation, 10 mins of cooking.
This recipe was prepared for a dinner of 1 person.
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
10g of butter
another 5g of butter at the end
2-3 slices of salted anchovies
80g of spaghetti
Bring a pot of water to boil. After the water boils, add a generous pinch of salt and the spaghetti. The spaghetti should almost cook but not entirely. As a guide, let them cook in the pot for 2 minutes less than the cooking time indicated on the package.
At the same time, in a separate pan, heat olive oil on a low-medium flame. Add 10g butter and anchovies to melt. Use a spatula to gently mix them together. Lower the flame to its lowest setting if you are still waiting for the spaghetti to almost cook.
When the spaghetti are almost cooked, use a pasta ladle to transfer it from the pot into the pan. Mix the spaghetti with the sauce.
On a medium-high flame, add a ladle of the “pasta water” from the pot (that the spaghetti were cooking in), to let the spaghetti finish cooking in the sauce.
Once the spaghetti are al dente, switch off the flame. Add 5g of butter and mix it well with the pasta to add a velvet texture to the dish.
This rustic recipe is one of my all-time favourites. All over Italy, this dish of pasta and beans is regularly served at home, with each family having its personal adaptations. As a humble dish it is not typically served at restaurants, perhaps only at trattorie, smaller diners which serve home-cooked dishes.
This recipe can be made vegetarian by skipping the skin of guanciale/pancetta, and further adjusted to vegan by using semola (non-egg) pasta. The vegan version is the most popular in the South of Italy. You may also cook this bean “soup” without pasta, but remember to allow the pot to rest for at least 0.5 to 1 hour at the end before serving.
10 mins of preparation, 1.5 hours of slow cooking, 1 hour of resting
This recipe was prepared for a dinner of 4 persons.
Chop carrots and celeries into big chunks, and grind in a food processor. Set aside.
On medium flame, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, sautee the chopped carrots and celeries for 5 minutes until they sweat. They “sweat” when you see the water evaporating.It is also very important that you do not add any salt at this point.
Add the beans and allow to sautee for 2 minutes.
Add cold water up to 3 or 4 fingers deep and cover the pot. Once the water comes to a boil, lower the flame to the lowest setting and allow to simmer for 1 hour. As the pot simmers, peel and cut your potatoes.
Add the chinese cabbage and potato chunks and cook for another 0.5 hour, or until the beans are the softness of your liking.
Increase the flame to medium and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and a bit of hot water if the soup is too thick until it cooks. Our maltagliati is homemade and takes only 3 minutes to cook.
After your pasta has cooked, switch off the flame. Add salt to taste and allow to rest for an hour for the flavours to soak in the soup before serving.
Where we bought our ingredients in Singapore:
Borlotti beans – Tiong Bahru Market
Guanciale – Da Paolo, or Huber’s
The fresh borlotti beans are sold at the “wet market” with their pods, which are pink. To obtain the beans, pinch off one tip and apply some pressure to the edge, and slide your fingers down to open the pod.
At the supermarket, you will also be able to find canned borlotti beans, but fresh ingredients taste the best.
I am curious how they are used in the local cuisines but unfortunately my wife is very averse to beans and legumes in general.
The chinese cabbage is softer in texture and flavour. It will dissolve into the sauce.
You may also use other types of cabbage such as the round cabbage or “black” cabbage, if you prefer stronger flavours. As the leaves are tougher than the chinese cabbage, cook them earlier together with the beans, instead of adding them with the potatoes.
We used maltagliati, which was the remnant pieces of the homemade Fettuccine that we stored in the freezer.
We had the skin of guanciale which we trimmed off while making pasta all’Amatriciana. You may also use the skin of pancetta. This bit will add flavour to your oil base and becomes soft as it cooks.
Salt and Beans
When you cook beans or legumes (such as chickpeas and lentils), do not add any salt until the end of the cooking. Otherwise, their skin hardens up and their insides do not cook.
Using a Pasta Machine is one of the ways to shape Egg Pasta Dough (or non-egg semolina pasta as well). Remember that you need to allow your dough to rest before you can shape it:
To shape the dough on the same day, let it rest for at least 1 hour after kneading (at room temperature and covered with a cling wrap).
If you let the dough rest overnight in the fridge, take it out of the fridge and let it rest for at least half an hour (at room temperature and covered with a cling wrap).
For this recipe, we use Kitchen Aid Pasta Machine. If you use a manually operated pasta machine, the sheet roller would have the same “1” to “6” settings which indicate the thickness of the pasta dough you are rolling, with “1” being the thickest.
Before you start, set up the working space:
Pasta machine with the sheet roller attachment
Wooden board (to place your dough, sprinkled with semolina)
A bag of semolina flour within arm’s reach from wooden board
Clean surface covered with cloth (to distribute your pasta sheets)
A tray with generous amount of semolina flour
This recipe was prepared for a dinner of 5 persons.
Sprinkle semolina flour on the wooden board and egg pasta dough.
Cut your dough into half. Cut it again into another half. You will have a quarter about the size of your palm.
Gently shape your quarter into a roughly rectangular piece. Turn both sides through the semolina on the wooden board.
Set the pasta machine sheet roller to “1” (thickest) and switch on your machine. Run the dough through the top of the roller.
Change the setting of the machine to “2”. Add semolina to both sides of the sheet, and run it again through the roller. Repeat this step, increasing the machine setting by a number each time, until the piece is run through setting number “6”.
Place your thin sheet onto a cloth. Cut into desired length and slice uneven ends to create rectangular sheets. Sprinkle semolina on the sheet to prevent it from sticking. Repeat steps 1 to 6, until you use all your egg pasta dough.Do not throw away the remaining cut ends, which can be used as “maltagliati” (“badly shaped”) typically used for soups with beans or peas.
II. Run it through the shape cutter
Change your pasta machine attachment to the Fettuccine Cutter (or your desired shape cutter). Run your thin sheet through the cutter.
Hold the fettuccine bundle and run it through semolina flour in the tray. Roll the bundle up and set aside while you work on the other sheets.
Cook the pasta in boiling water (with salt), or store in the freezer.
Semolina flour – Scoop, the nearest to us at Great World City Other options: Phoon Huat, Little Farms
Semolina vs Other Flours
Semolina works better than “00” white flours to keep pasta dry. If you do not have any semolina at home, you may use other white flours.
Hand Rolling vs Pasta Machine Sheet Roller
My grandmother could roll out very thin pasta sheets by hand, using a big wooden board and a long wooden rod, and she was much faster than the machine. It is doable, of course, but takes a lot of skill.
This is a very useful dough which can be used for all your egg pasta shapes: fettuccine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, lasagne, etc. Egg pasta goes very well with meaty sauces such as the ragù such as the Ragù alla Bolognese.
Watch the video to see the kneading technique, and hear some anecdotes on the history of Ragù.
10-15 mins of preparation, 1 hour of resting (if using dough on the same day), orovernight resting in the fridge (with additional 0.5 hour resting outside the fridge before shaping the pasta).
This recipe was prepared for a dinner of 5 persons.
500g of “00” Italian flour, in a big bowl
5 large eggs
Wooden board for kneading
Pinch of salt (Optional)
Extra virgin olive oil (Optional)
With your fingers, make a “volcano crater” in the middle of the flour bowl, and break the eggs into the cavity. Use the best eggs you can find, it will make a big difference. We use cage-free eggs.
With a fork, slowly incorporate flour into the eggs in a circular motion.
When the eggs are no longer visible (no liquid of the eggs is visible in the flour mix), continue to knead with hands for a few minutes. Your dough will start forming bits of sticky lumps.
When the flour mix starts to form a loose lump (sticky bits with only about 10-20% powder of the flour), pour it onto the board and continue kneading. At this point, your dough is still a bit sticky to your fingers.
Knead for 10-15 minutes by flattening and stretching with the lower palms of your hands until dough has an elastic texture. At the end, your dough should not stick to your fingers or the board. See kneading tips below.
Shape into a thick disk, wrap tightly with a cling wrap, and set aside to rest (outside for 1 hour, or in the fridge overnight).
We used a pasta machine to shape our dough into fettuccine the next day. See the recipe here.
Where we bought our ingredients in Singapore:
“00” Italian Flour – Scoop, the nearest to us at Great World City Other options: Phoon Huat, Little Farms
Cage-Free Large Eggs – Any big supermarkets, refrigerated (usually near dairy items) – Fair Price, Cold Storage, Little Farm.
As you knead, remove the dry flaky bits that are not absorbed into the dough. Do not force them into the dough as they will not be fully incorporated. This is common for egg pasta dough.
If sticky, your dough is too wet and you should sprinkle some flour as you knead.
If you feel that your dough is too dry, wet the tips of your finger.
Your dough is ready when it is no longer sticky and has developed enough resistance to your kneading as a smoother big lump.
Do not over-knead as your pasta will develop too much gluten and become too chewy.
Do not use a mixer to knead your dough, as a mixer uses too much strength even at its lowest setting and your dough will develop too much gluten.
“Strong” flours have a protein content of 12% and above, and are used for bread, pizza, focaccia and the likes.
“Weak” flours have lower protein content and are typically used for pasta and cakes. The “00” Italian Flour is a “weak” (but no less delicious) flour.
My grandmother would give the dry flaky bits of flour that were otherwise thrown away to the chickens and pigs outside. Unfortunately, we do not have any in Singapore.
To Egg or Not To Egg
The egg pasta was traditionally from the North of Italy. In the South where I come from, the traditional pasta uses semolina and water (and a pinch of salt). My paternal grandmother, for example, used only the no-egg dough. My maternal nonna who was more adventurous (she had a pen pal from even further north, in Germany) made the egg pasta sometimes. The egg pasta is of course now a staple all over the country.
The types of two pasta doughs have different textures. As I mentioned, the egg pasta can be accompanied by meaty sauces such as the ragù such as the Ragù alla Bolognese, Napoletana, Siciliana, Pugliese, Calabrese, etc.
Rustic Italian meal of Naples of pasta, potatoes, mussels and a dash of tomato. This dish brought me back to the beautiful sea and coast of the Mediterranean.
10 mins of preparation, 30-40 mins of cooking.
This recipe was prepared for a dinner of 2 persons.
extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
2 peeled tomatoes (from a can of peeled tomatoes / pelati)
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
3 bags of 454g frozen mussels whole, unthawed
2 small slices of pecorino cheese
150g of gomiti pasta (or any other rustic “bronze-drawn” pasta can be used)
additional pecorino cheese
a handful of basil leaves
ground black pepper
I. Steam the mussels
Add olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic and frozen mussels into a pot. Heat on low flame with the pot covered, for 20 minutes or until the frozen water has melted and become warm. The frozen mussels must be “fresh out of the freezer” when you do this.
II. Prepare the sauce
While the mussels are steaming, in a separate pot, heat olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic until golden.
Add peeled tomatoes. Crush with the spatula and stir to cook for 2 minutes.
Add potatoes and allow to cook for 2 minutes, to absorb the oil.
Add hot water to cover the potatoes.
Add 2 thick slices of pecorino. Cover the pot and allow to simmer on low flame for 10-15 minutes.
III. Strain and clean the mussels
While the sauce is simmering, check that the mussels are steamed. Strain the water into a bowl to get rid of impurities. This water of the mussels will be used for the sauce.
Remove the shells of the mussels.
IV. Complete the dish
After the potatoes have cooked and become soft, add the strained water of the mussels into the sauce pot.
Add pasta into the sauce pot. If needed, add more water.
Bring the pot to a boil on medium-high flame, stirring until the pasta is almost cooked. For this recipe, cook the pasta 2 minutes before it is al dente, as it will continue to cook in the sauce as it rests.
Switch off the flame, add the mussels, and cover the pot. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, add grated pecorino to taste and a bit of olive oil. Stir well.
Add basil and ground black pepper to taste.
Where we bought our ingredients in Singapore:
Frozen mussels (Pier 33 Gourmet Fully Cooked Mussels All Natural, 454g per packet) – Foodies Market or Fairprice
Peeled tomatoes / pelati (La Corvinia, 400g) – Foodies Market
“Bronze-Drawn” or trafilata al bronzo refers to the way the pasta is processed, which produces a rough texture which releases more starch when it cooks and absorbs more of the sauce it is mixed with.
A can usually contains 4-5 tomatoes, so you will not be using the whole can. Store the rest in the fridge.
Alternatively, Fresh Mussels
If using fresh mussels, cook for only 2-3 minutes (with the pot covered) until the shells open up. Shells that do not open up are dead and should be discarded.
As basil leaves in Singapore are relatively expensive and irregular in supply at the supermarkets, we have been growing our own for the past 3 years. We grew them from seeds, in sand, with 2-weekly goat manure (from Tiong Bahru Market), and semi-shaded along our corridor.