It’s hard to find guanciale in the states, but at Altomonte’s we make it. It’s cured pork jowls and it adds a very specific flavor and authenticity to this dish. If you can’t find it use pancetta. We also make our own fresh bucatini pasta, just be aware fresh pasta cooks fast, so you need to work quickly to prepare a perfect al dente dish. If you cannot find bucatini, substitute perciatelli or thick spaghetti like spaghettoni. Always use real, Italian tomatoes we love the wonderful Valgri brand, also the tomatoes of Vesuvius region work great.
Of all the pastas being made by hand I remember while growing up, this one holds the most joyous memories and tradition for me. For Sunday Dinner or special occasions, my maternal and paternal grandmothers would sit across from each other, on their lap would be a wooden board that they used as their table top. They would chat and chat and chat and laugh (they were good friends before their children married) and laugh all the while cranking out handmade pasta, one by one they would roll the dough into ropes before cutting it and then pressing each piece onto a thick piece of straw, using both hands they would then press and roll and stretch and then meticulously wiggle each pasta strand off the straw and onto a tablecloth to dry. They were really fast at it too! Many towns in Calabria make this shape, each in their own way and each has their own name for it. I love the way the sauce gets stuck in the hole, mmmm!
Nonna’s Notes: In the old days women would spit on their palms to add moisture to the dough to roll it right. Yuk! We do NOT recommend that! LOL So please make sure you keep the pasta covered in between use either with plastic wrap or in a sealed container that holds in moisture.
When autumn rolls around, there is no better comfort food than homemade risotto. It’s an easy recipe but does require a lot of stirring, so plan to make it when you can pour yourself a glass on wine, relax and enjoy the process.
Cotechino is a cooked pork sausage made from a mix of top quality pork, lean and fatty cuts, and pigskin from pigs bred in Italy. It’s seasoned with natural flavorings and spices, filled in casings and tied by hand at both ends. It’s very rich and filling, you don’t need much but it adds a ton of flavor. I used Levoni brand Cotechino from Modena, it’s got the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) meaning the pork can only come from a specific region in Modena and is a hallmark of quality. It’s usually sold in a box and inside the sausage is sealed in an aluminum sachet. It is imported from Italy.
I used Beluga lentils here, but you can use any dry lentils you like. Red Chief have a beautiful orange color, just know that after they are cooked they all kind of look the same, like a grey color. You always want to rinse lentils really well before using, the way there are grown, I find pebbles just about every time.
Personally, I love this dish at Eastertime. It’s perfect for the season with all of the fresh garden ingredients.
Pastured Eggs come from chickens that are allowed to roam free. More than just being ‘organic’ they really taste better and contain more nutrients, the yolks are deep gold and orange.
To trim the asparagus, remove the tough fibrous bottom. You can use a knife to cut through the entire bunch at once, but I prefer to do it spear by spear so you can feel where it starts to get tender and snap it at the appropriate point. Also for this recipe you will want to conserve the tips and add them in later as the recipe shows. This is because they take less time to cook than the stems.
Fresh Basket Cheese is available in the Spring at your Italian Market, it’s milky sweet, unsalted and it’s texture is a cross between fresh ricotta and fresh mozzarella. It holds together like mozzarella, but it’s not as meltable. It’s slightly crumbly like ricotta but not nearly as mushy. It can be used in recipes or eaten just as-is. It’s a staple on our Easter table.
The Dry Cured Sausage in this recipe is the one that was made from January’s pig slaughter. It hung in my parent’s basement cantina from the month of January until it was cured enough to be taken down and preserved in oil or vacuum packed. If you don’t have dried sausage hanging in your basement, you can substitute your favorite salami or sopressata or even sub in fresh Italian sausage. Just remove the casing and make sure to cook it thoroughly in the pan.
I’ve tasted this seafood pasta dish many times in Italy and wanted to recreate it at home. A quick google search led me to America’s Test Kitchen, whom I adore. I agreed with their sentiment that while Linguine Frutti di Mare is nice, Linguine allo Scoglio is the ultimate shellfish and pasta dish! By the same notion, some recipes for it just don’t taste very seafood-y at all. But I believe this recipe for Linguine allo Scoglio really lets the seafood shine! I tweaked it and made this recipe my own, it’s a lot of ingredients but so worth it – I hope you like it!
If you can’t find soft shell clams or cockles, replace all or part of the recipe with little neck clams. You can omit the baby octopus if you like and just use the squid tentacles instead, if you do, just add the tentacles at the same time as the tubes. My market didn’t have any on the day I needed and we love the tentacles in Linguine allo Scoglio so I had to improvise.