I know the first day of spring is just around the corner and Daylight Saving Time launches in the Pacific Northwest next week, but it’s still hanging in the low 40’s most days, so until the sun actually returns, creamy, rich pasta dishes are still keeping me warm.
And for whatever reason, I have a mad crush on strozzapreti pasta (stroh-tzuh-PRAY-tee) lately, and it’s getting star billing in the OtherWorldly Kitchen. I even found this cool post at Y Len Ate that shows one way to shape fresh strozzapreti pasta (twisted). And then another cool post at Eat with a Spoon that shows a very different shaping method (wrapped over a skewer). Both look wonderful.
I must say though that Marcella Hazan–yes, the Queen Mother of Italian cooking–noted on my Facebook page—yes, MY Facebook page–last week that the pasta shown in my photo of Pasta Carbonara Perfecta Mundo did not look like strozzapreti to her. She went on to say that strozzapreti are not tubular and that they should have a twist. All I can say is the imported package of dried pasta says strozzapreti and also, if you look VERY closely at that photo, you will see the pasta isn’t actually a closed tube. Nevertheless, I’m sure the dried variety pales in comparison to freshly made, so we must all learn to make fresh strozzapreti.
Searching for a way to appease my insatiable craving for pasta, I happened on a recipe yesterday that sounds wonderful and somewhat unusual. It’s from Joyce Goldstein’s cookbook, Back to Square One: Old-World Food in a New-World Kitchen, which I highly recommend. (Actually, I recommend anything that Ms. Goldstein writes. She’s a goddess in the kitchen.) The dish is titled, Penne with Sausage, Broccoli, Ricotta, and Toasted Breadcrumbs.
I intended to follow Ms. Goldstein’s lead, but the muse took over, and the final dish bears little resemblance to the original inspiration–except perhaps in one significant way. The recipe says to either crumble the sausage OR to shape it into little balls. Little balls! Why have I never thought of that? I knew immediately that little sausage balls would be so much better than crumbled sausage. I was salivating just thinking about it.
But when I got to the kitchen and stood before a pound of very sticky Italian pork sausage, shaping a hundred little balls suddenly lost all appeal. And I do mean ALL appeal. Instead, I ended up simply pinching bite-size pieces of sausage into the saute pan, which works nicely and is perhaps a little less time consuming. And although I love Ms. Goldstein’s idea of a tomato and ricotta sauce for the pasta, I had just scored a bundle of the most beautiful broccolini and wanted to make sure the color came through loud and clear. So the game plan switched to a garlic cream sauce.
And in case you are wondering why I am showing you yet another highly caloric, cream-laden pasta dish, all I can say is, hey, what about the broccolini?
Strozzapreti with Spicy Italian Sausage, Broccolini, & Garlic Crema
This pasta dish is so toothsome and delectable, you will be licking the pan to get every last drop of the addictive sauce. The secret is in letting the sausage and sauce flavors meld for awhile. That takes the flavor over the top.
Make Ahead: You can saute the sausage, make the Garlic Crèma, and grate the cheese a day or so in advance if you wish.
½ pound spicy Italian sausage (remove casing from sausage links)
olive oil if needed
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, peeled and then pressed or minced
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
¼ cup chicken stock
¾ cup cream
¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
fine sea salt to taste
8 ounces broccolini (also called baby broccoli)
½ pound dried strozzapreti, penne, or other short tubular pasta
2 tablespoons salt (for pasta boiling water)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
lots of freshly ground black pepper
- To cook the sausage, pinch marble-size pieces into a large saute pan. Saute, turning frequently, until all pieces are lightly browned and fully cooked. The sausage should contain enough fat to adequately coat the pan, but if the pan becomes dry, add a drizzle of olive oil. Remove the saute pan from the heat, but keep warm at the back of the stove. (If made in advance, gently rewarm in a large saute pan.)
- To make the Garlic Crema, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil, and saute the shallots, garlic, and fennel seeds until softened but not browned. Add the chicken stock and reduce to 2 tablespoons. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese and stir to melt. Add the Garlic Crèma to the sausage in the saute pan and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let the flavors meld. (If made in advance, add to the sausage and rewarm together.)
- To cook the pasta, fill a large stockpot with cold water, add the salt, and bring to a full boil. Add pasta and cook for 7-10 minutes, until pasta is just tender. Remove pasta with a strainer and add to the sausage and Garlic Crèma in the saute pan. Set the saute pan over low heat and toss the ingredients together. Keep the pasta water boiling.
- Add the broccolini to the boiling water and cook for just one minute. Drain and add to the pasta. Toss everything together.
- Make sure everything is heated through, and then season to taste with salt.
- Scoop the pasta onto a serving platter or into individual wide-rimmed pasta bowls, and garnish with the remaining parmesan, plus plenty of black pepper.
- Serve immediately.
More Pasta Recipes from LunaCafe:
- LunaCafe OtherWorldly Mac & Cheese
- Old World Spaetzle: The New Pasta?
- Old-Fashioned Creamy Macaroni Salad
- Spicy Penne & Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Dressing
- Spinach & Egg Fettuccini with Wild Mushrooms & Pancetta (Straw & Hay)
- World Famous Green Chile Mac & Cheese
- 101 Cookbooks: Pounded Walnut Strozzapreti
- Audio Pronunciation of Strozzapreti
- Eat with a Spoon: Strozzapreti
- Three Monkey’s Online: Strozzapreti (Priest-Chokers) from Romagna. Between History, Customs and Recipes
- Y Len Ate: Making Pasta with Madame: Strozzapreti with Black Truffles
Copyright 2010 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.