FOLLOW A FOODIE: Back-to-school pasta dishes

As we return to the realities of long workdays, school, and extracurricular activities, it’s time to simplify our dining routines. It’s also a time of year that bridges the heat of the August sun with the onset of cool nights. This way we have the best of both worlds, as we can access the freshest summer produce and convert it into comfort food that is quick to prepare and perfect for the busy nature of September dinner parties.

Easy homemade pasta

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 large eggs + 2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tbsp olivehe

directions: Put the flour on a large work surface. With your hands, form a well in the middle of the flour. Add the egg, salt and olive oil to the well. Using a fork, whisk the eggs, trying to gently bring the flour into the egg mixture without breaking the walls of the flour. Once the flour is largely incorporated, start kneading the dough by hand. Once the flour is well incorporated, knead for 10 minutes. Eventually, it should be smooth and springy. If too dry add a little water. If too sticky, add more flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and let stand 30 minutes. Divide into 4 pieces. Lay out floured molds. Using a rolling pin, roll out balls of dough. Pass through the pasta machine on the lowest setting 2-3 times. Roll out the pasta and fold the edges to the middle. Fold in half lengthwise to form a rectangle. Now switch to setting 2, followed by 3, up to 6. Place the finished pasta sheets on baking sheets and dust lightly with flour. Cut the pasta into your favorite shape.

Linguine with mushrooms

Wine pairing: Sicilian Frappato or Nerello Mascalese, or mix

4 to 6 servings

1 ½ lbs of pasta

1 tbsp each butter, olive oil

2 shallots, diced or 3-4 tbsp finely diced red onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed

1 lb mixed mushrooms

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

directions: Place the butter and oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms release liquid. While the mushrooms cook, bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta. Add olive oil to prevent sticking. Mix with the mushroom mixture. Add the parmesan and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*For a little more depth of flavor, add halved and seasoned king oyster mushrooms to a pan with a knob of butter and olive oil with fresh thyme and garlic cloves. Cook until golden brown on each side.

Linguine with Walnuts and Sage Butter

Wine pairing: Soave Classico

4 to 6 servings

3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup butter, cubed

16 sage leaves

1 ½ lb fresh linguine (1 lb dried)

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

directions: Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the linguini until al dente. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter. When the butter melts, add the walnuts and garlic. Cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add sage leaves and cook until crisp (1-2 minutes). Add the freshly cooked pasta, the parmesan to the butter sauce and mix.

Spaghettini with Roasted Tomatoes

Wine pairing: Chianti, Connanau di Sardegna for the reds or Soave Classico for the whites

4 to 6 servings

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

1 ½ lbs fresh spaghettini (1 lb dried)

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup basil, coarsely chopped

1/2 lemon, juice

directions: Set the oven to 250 F. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 2 hours. Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (1 to 2 minutes). If using dry pasta, cook it according to package directions. When you’re done, drain and drizzle with olive oil. Place in a bowl and add the roasted tomatoes and Parmesan. Finish with basil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Easy Sausage and Kale Penne

Wine pairing: Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

4 to 6 servings

1 ½ lbs fresh penne pasta (1 lb dried)

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed

3 cups kale, chopped

pasta water

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Bring a pot of heavily salted water. Cook pasta until al dente, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Add a little olive to the pasta to prevent it from sticking. Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender. Add garlic, chili flakes and sausage meat. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon while cooking. When the sausage meat is browned, drain the excess fat. Add the reserved cooking water to the sausages and bring to a boil. Add kale and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Finish with the parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Wine pairing: Chardonnay

4 to 6 servings

4 oz pancetta*, cubed

1 ½ lb fresh fettuccine pasta (or 1 lb dried pasta)

2 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

6 egg yolks

2 teaspoons chilli flakes

2 teaspoons guanciale fat

pasta water

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped, for garnish

Directions: Place a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until browned on all sides. Remove from pan and place on paper towel. Drain the excess fat from the pan. At the same time, bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the fettuccine until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water. Add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking. Add the pasta to the pancetta with half a cup of cooking water. Turn off the fire. Add cheese, peppers and mix. Slowly add the egg yolks and continue to stir until a rich, flavorful consistency is formed. Be careful not to add the eggs until the pan has cooled enough to avoid making scrambled eggs. Serve in bowls, garnished with parsley.

*Traditionally, guanciale (cured pork cheek) is used, but pancetta (found in most grocery store deli aisles) makes a great substitute.

5 essential ingredients for Italian cooking

1. Olive oil

Look for first pressing extra virgin olive oil. A good olive oil can be used as a sauce for fish, pasta and even meat.

2. Parmigiano-Reggiano

The monarch of Italian cheeses. This hard, salty cheese acts as a seasoning, and in many dishes it is as crucial as salt.

3. Garlic

In almost all Italian dishes there is one or two cloves of garlic. It’s the flavor almost synonymous with Italian cuisine.

4. Flour

A good flour with a lot of gluten, such as semolina, is recommended for pasta. A good all-purpose flour works too, but not cake flour.

5. San Marzano tomatoes

Tomatoes are central to Italian cuisine, especially central and southern Italian cuisine. When you can’t find fresh, whole, canned San Marzano tomatoes, they’re great for making sauces and soups.