Tag: Artusi

Easy Weeknight Pasta From The 19th Century

Easy Weeknight Pasta From The 19th Century

(Above: This pasta dish pairs well with garlic bread and an arugula and kale salad. And if you’re feeling ambitious and hungry, make some authentic Italian meatballs to go along with it.)

Sometimes you need a recipe like this to remind you how easy perfection can be.

This is a simple tomato and pasta dish that dates back to the classic Italian cookbook, “The Art of Eating Well,” published in 1891 by Pellegrino Artusi. Artusi travelled throughout Italy collecting the best family recipes from each region.

This dish is from Naples and is called, “Neapolitan-Style Macaroni II.”

 

Tomatoes, onion, and basil
These are only three ingredients for this sauce: tomatoes, basil and onions (and you discard the onion after frying it until brown). All three are cooked in olive and butter.

 

You can use whatever type of pasta you like, but it should be one that absorbs the sauce well. So textured pastas, tubular pastas, and large fat noodles work well. I used some pappardelle but I’ve also used penne in the past and both work well.

 

Chopped tomatoes
Peeling, chopping, and deseeding the tomatoes is the most work needed for this dish.

 

This basic sauce is made by cooking tomatoes and although fresh tomatoes from a garden would be best, I used what I could find in February in Boston (rubbery tomatoes sold on the vine) and it still came out delicious.

 

 

Bowl of tomato sauce
The recipe creates a light, but flavorful, tomato sauce that tastes fresh.

 

The sauce is simple to make but takes a little work as you have to peel the tomatoes and then take the seeds out. I found using this vegetable peeler to be much easier than trying to peel the tomatoes with a paring knife.

 

Bowl of pasta with tomato sauce.
This old classic is quick, easy, and delicious: perfect for a weeknight.

 

This recipe is what Rootsliving is all about. It’s an ethnic recipe from the past that is tried and true, and simple. Buon Appetito!

 

EASY WEEKNIGHT PASTA (AKA: NEAPOLITAN-STYLE MACARONI II)

February 28, 2019
: 30 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • One pound of pasta (Penne can be used as it absorbs the sauce well)
  • Two large slices of onions
  • 1 1/4 pounds of peeled, seeded tomatoes (4 or 5 will do)
  • Fresh basil (a couple of tablespoons minced)
  • Butter (1/2 stick, plus two tablespoons)
  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (about a 1/4 – 1/2 cup)
Directions
  • Step 1 Saute onion in two tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. The onion will split into rings as it cooks. When it browns, press it down with a spoon and then discard.
  • Step 2 Stir in the tomatoes. Add basil, salt and pepper.
  • Step 3 Simmer until done. About 1/2 hour or until it’s not watery.
  • Step 4 Cook pasta until al dente. Add sauce, 1/2 stick of butter and grated parmesan cheese. Serve with garlic bread and a salad, if you like.

 

Amaretti Cookies (Macaroons)

Amaretti Cookies (Macaroons)

(Above: Italian Sugar Cookies. These almond cookies are brittle and crunchy and look great served in a Nora Fleming napkin holder/candy dish with a Nora Fleming hand-painted snowman charm.)

One of my favorite cookies are amaretti. I usually buy them once a year around the holidays. I never knew how easy they are to make — they only have three ingredients — until I stumbled upon the recipe in the Artusi.

 

Cookies on a floured board
These cookies only have three ingredients: almonds, egg whites and confectioners sugar. This recipe makes about 48 small cookies.

 

The Artusi is the classic Italian cookbook first published in 1891 by Pellegrino Artusi, a prosperous Italian silk merchant who collected recipes from homemakers he met during his travels all over Italy. If you want a truly authentic cookbook with recipes from the north and south of Italy that Italians still use today, get this one (the hardcover is available on Amazon).

 

Almonds, sugar, egg whites
It’s hard to believe that these cookies only require three simple ingredients.

 

Although the book is very popular in Italy — it has gone through 111 printings and most homes there have it — it wasn’t translated into English until 1996. (Full disclosure: My father and I had talked about working together to publish an English version but never got around to it.)

 

Dough rolled into the shape of a snake
Once you roll the dough into the shape of a snake, cut small pieces to make each cookie. Don’t worry that they’re too small. This dough rises in the oven creating a larger cookie.

 

The recipes are authentic and have probably been passed down through generations for hundreds and hundreds of years. Most are pretty easy and simple to make too, making them perfect for Rootsliving. However, they often refer to old techniques that I figured out could be performed quicker and easier using modern methods and in some cases, modern machines.

 

Cookies before being put in the oven
Be careful when forming these cookies. Any irregularities will be exaggerated as the cookies expand while cooking them.

 

Such is the case with this recipe that called for crushing the almonds with a mortar and pestle. I tried that the first time I made them but it was very labor intensive so the next time I made them, I used a food processor and there was no difference.

 

Cookie dough in food processor
Using a food processor, rather than a mortar and pestle is much easier and faster.

 

While making these a few times following the recipe in the Artusi, I found it necessary to make some other adjustments too:

  1. I floured a pastry board so the dough wouldn’t stick to the pastry board when I rolled it into a snake shape.
  2. And I greased (with Crisco shortening) and floured a cookie sheet before putting the cookies on it for baking. In fact, I recommend putting a good layer of grease on the cookie sheet before you flour it. One of my cookie sheets wasn’t greased enough. The cookies stuck to it and broke when I tried to remove them.

 

Cookies on a baking sheet
Be sure to grease the baking sheet well because these suckers like to stick.

 

The end result are amaretti cookies that are a little different than the ones you can get in Italian speciality stories in the U.S. The main difference is the consistency. They are even more brittle than the crunchy store-bought variety.

I liked them better but still thought they might be improved by adding an ounce or two of Amaretto liquor.  So the next time I made them I tried that and determined that just a little bit of Amaretto, about one or two tablespoons, gave them a little better, stronger, flavor.  The difference was small and so this is completely optional.

 

Cookies on a plate
The recipe in the Artusi called for making 30 cookies but I made them a little smaller and got 48. I find that most people today find it hard to commit to a larger cookie and are more apt to pick up and eat a small one (or two, or three).

 

The main thing to remember is to use only a small amount of the dough (about one teaspoon) to form each cookie. Roll the dough between your hands to form a small ball and then press down on it slightly, but don’t flatten it out. And be sure to give each cookie enough space to expand on the cookie sheet.

One batch I made, I used too much dough for each cookie, flattened them too much, and put them too close to one another on the cookie sheet. The result looked like one big cookie. Everything was stuck together. It tasted great but the presentation was awful. I also whipped the egg whites in that batch until they were stiff although I’m not sure if that caused some of this problem. What I am sure of is that you don’t need to whip the egg whites.

This is a simple recipe and my recommendation is don’t try to make it more complicated.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.) 

Here’s the (slightly altered) recipe from the Artusi:

Amaretti (Macaroons) (From the Artusi)

December 7, 2018
: 48 cookies
: 1 hr 30 min
: Easy, but you need to be careful

By:

Ingredients
  • Almonds (1 1/2 cups, plus 1/8 cup)
  • Egg whites (2)
  • Confectioners sugar (3 cups)
  • (Optional: Amaretto liquor, 1-2 tablespoons)
  • Flour (for dusting)
  • Shortening (to grease cookie sheets)
  • (Optional equipment: Food processor)
Directions
  • Step 1 Put almonds in a food processor with one of the egg whites and process until fine (about 10-20 seconds).
  • Step 2 Dump mixture into a large bowl (add the optional Amaretto if you’re using it) and mix in half of the sugar with your hand.
  • Step 3 Add half an egg white and stir with your hands. Add the rest of the sugar and stir with your hands. Add the remaining egg white and mix with your hands.
  • Step 4 Grease two cookie sheets and flour them by sprinkling flour on them and dumping the flour out so that both sheets are completely covered in flour. Be sure to put a good layer of shortening on the cookie sheets before sprinkling the flour because these cookies like to stick.
  • Step 5 Roll dough into the shape of a snake on a lightly floured board. Cut the snake into small pieces. Roll those pieces into a ball in your hands and then press down on them slightly before putting them on a greased cookie sheet. (Note: Take care to round the cookie edges because any irregularities will be enhanced when the cookies rise and expand while cooking.)
  • Step 6 Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 325 degree oven.
Quick Tomato Sauce

Quick Tomato Sauce

This simple recipe comes from the classic nineteenth-century Italian cookbook, the Artusi. Although it’s a bit more complicated and time-consuming than opening up a jar of sauce, it’s still pretty simple and quick to make. And it’s definitely worth the effort as it creates a very plain, simple tomato sauce that you can use in a variety of dishes.

Quick Tomato Sauce (From the Artusi)

October 15, 2018
: 1 hr
: Easy

It doesn't get any more authentic than this. From a classic nineteenth-century Italian cookbook. It's easy to make and worth the effort.

By:

Ingredients
  • Tomatoes (About 1 1/2 pounds, preferably Roma or plum tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper (Just a dash, to taste)
Directions
  • Step 1 Blanch the tomatoes: that means drop them in boiling water for about a minute. This makes it easier to peel them.
  • Step 2 Peel, de-seed and chop them.
  • Step 3 Drop the tomatoes into a pot with just enough water to keep them from sticking to the bottom.
  • Step 4 Simmer the tomatoes until done (About 20 minutes. No more than 30 minutes). Stir occasionally. And add salt and pepper.
  • Step 5 Puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.
Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup

Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup

Gnocchi di pollo e patata sounds so much better than chicken and potato gnocchi. But they both taste the same: light, savory, elegant.

This recipe, from the classic Italian cookbook from 1894 The Art of Eating Well, by Pellegrino Artusi, makes many gnocchis so it’s great to make and freeze. And then when you crave gnocchi, you’ll always have it on hand.

Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup

November 28, 2010
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • For the broth:
  • A whole chicken (1)
  • Celery Stalk (1, split in half)
  • Carrot (1 whole, peeled and cut in half)
  • Salt/Pepper (to taste)
  • For the gnocchi:
  • Mealy potatoes, peeled, boiled and pressed through a ricer or strainer (1/2 pound)
  • Small chicken breast, boiled and minced (Use one from the chicken you used to make the broth).
  • Parmesan cheese (3/4 of a cup)
  • Egg yolks (2)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Nutmeg (a pinch)
  • Flour (3-4 tablespoons)
Directions
  • Step 1 To make the broth: Put a whole chicken in a large pot and cover with cold water.
  • Step 2 Add celery and carrot, and salt and pepper.
  • Step 3 Bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for an hour or more.
  • Step 4 Remove chicken. Pour broth through strainer into a large plastic container and refrigerate over night.
  • Step 5 The next day, take the fat off the top of the broth with a soup spoon.
  • Step 6 To make the gnocchi: Mix all of the ingredients, except the flour, together well.
  • Step 7 Work the flour into the mixture to bind it.
  • Step 8 Roll the mixture on a floured surface into a snake, the diameter of your little finger.
  • Step 9 Cut the snake into 1-inch lengths. Put what you don’t use into a large freezer bag and put in a freezer for later use.
  • Step 10 Simmer the gnocchi in the broth. They are very delicate and may fall apart. Don’t be too concerned as when they fall apart, they flavor the broth.