Friday, June 15, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #16

Each week it seems, Presto Pasta Night keeps getting bigger and better as more people share their love of pasta - remember to head over to Ruth's site for the delicious roundup!

Today I'll be using spaghetti with a bit of difference - it comes all the way from Calabria and it's made using a Chitarra - if you want to see what one looks like then click on this link.


Presented in these attractive bundles, the "spaghetti alla chitarra" has a noticeable difference. The spaghetti are square rather than round and have a rougher surface.

Pasta that has this type of rough surface is actually a good thing as the sauce clings to those little edges, rather than just drip off the typical smooth surfaced mass-produced pasta. You can now say it wasn't your fault the sauce dripped all over your shirt, it's the pasta's fault!

You should be able to make out the roughness I was talking about in this photo:


Needless to say this would make an ideal pasta to have with the traditional Ragù however, since we don't always have 2-3 hours to spend in making the sauce there is a way to get that feel and it involves a few of these


Good Italian sausages - these are made in a style of the Veneto Salsiccia - they are a lightly spiced, pure pork sausage. They are also available flavoured with fennel seed (con Finocchio) which you could also use for this dish.

The idea of the salsiccia sauce is very traditional and the way we make it, it ends up a cross between a chunky meat sauce and meatballs.


Spaghetti con Salsiccia/Spaghetti with Sausage

Spaghetti alla Chitarra
4 Veneto Salsiccia or good quality Pork Sausage
1 red onion, peeled, diced finely
2 medium carrots, peeled, diced finely
1 stalk celery, leaves included, diced finely
rosemary, finely chopped
tomato paste
diced fresh tomatoes or canned Italian crushed tomatoes
finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve

Just take the quantities listed as a guide only.

You can cut the vegetables by hand but you can also put them all in the food processor and process until they are finely diced.

Heat olive oil and a small knob of butter in a large pan and when the butter has melted and the mix is sizzling add the vegetables including the rosemary. Sauté this until golden over a medium-low heat. Stir often to prevent the mixture from burning.

It's important that you not rush this as so much of the flavour depends on the slow caramelisation of the vegetables. Aim for this to take somewhere between 10-15 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking prepare the sausages.

You need to break the sausage meat into small pieces (the sausage skin is discarded). I do this using the back of knife - it makes indentations through the meat but doesn't break the skin and it makes it easy for the meat to be pushed out from the end of the sausage.

When the vegetables are ready, increase the heat slightly and add the sausage in stages. Once they have changed colour, add some more sausage pieces. It's done this way so not to lose too much heat from your pan. Once all the sausage is added, continue cooking, stirring often for another 5 minutes.

Add a tablespoon of tomato paste, mix this in well and cook it off for a couple of minutes. This will also help intensify the flavour and give you a better end result.

Finally add in diced fresh tomatoes or a can of crushed Italian tomatoes, stir this through and then let the whole thing bubble away and reduce for at least 15 minutes.

At this stage you could probably put the water on to boil the pasta.

If you find the sauce is getting too thick just add a little of the pasta water to thin it out.

When the pasta is ready, toss it through the sauce and serve with a grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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  1. My partner would be weak at the knees if he saw this recipe. I may just have to send him the link or better yet, cook it myself!

  2. Wow, I am drooling over the dish and the photos, as usual are stunning.

    Now I have a new toy to buy. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  3. Thanks Truffle - with the cold nights that are coming, this is an ideal dish.

    Thanks Ruth - the Chitarra is gorgeous, it's a simple tool but does such an excellent job.

  4. ohmy, this looks gorgeous! it's a rainy day here, so this would be perfect comfort food! the fantes-site is wonderful, did you ever order from them? are they good folks? good service? they have quite a few things i want...;-)

  5. Wow - it's 8:30 in the morning and I am craving pasta.... This looks sooo good. I wish I could find interesting pastas like that!

  6. Haalo - As always, you make even a simple recipe covetable. I think this would be a great pasta to have around more often. Eric and I have finally talked ourselves into getting a pasta machine...well, one where the operator does the cranking and changing of the thickness dials. It is always a pleasure to stop by this blog.

  7. Thanks Myriam - I haven't ordered from Fantes before though like you, there are things there I wouldn't mind having

    Thanks Deborah - I had a quick look at amazon and they have a similar pasta available.

    Thanks so much Shaun - the pasta machines are great, you can do so much with them, you may find yourself hooked on fresh pasta.

  8. Hi Haalo - just discovered your blog and this recipe is the perfect introduction! The photography is fantastic and I love the simplicity of this recipe. Looking forward to giving it a try!

  9. Thanks you Melinda and welcome - if you do try this please let me know, good or bad, I do appreciate the feedback.


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