Pasta Grannies and Pasta Evangelists. Has there ever been a more iconic pasta pairing? We are delighted to announce our latest menu partnership with Pasta Grannies coming to a plate near you this Friday.
Pasta Grannies is an incredible project created by Vicky Bennison, best-selling author & amica of Pasta Evangelists. Vicky travels the lengths of il bel paese in search of the secrets of Italy's best home cooks, collecting recipes and videos as she discovers how traditional Italian pasta is made. Vicky mission is to help save the art of making pasta at home, which was traditionally passed down through the generations. However, this knowledge is increasingly dying out as younger generations don’t learn the art of making pasta by hand in the home and as commercially produced pasta becomes ever popular.
To celebrate the work of the Pasta Grannies of Italy and Vicky, we bring you four select dishes featuring the recipes of four Pasta Grannies nonne - Vanna, Alba, Rosetta, and Emilia. As we consider ourselves connoisseurs of pasta – especially traditional Italian home-style – we couldn’t be more excited to let you have a taste of these incredible recipes.
On The Pasta Grannies Special Menu
Vanna's Ciccioneddus with Lamb Ragù & Pecorino Sardo
The first dish – Ciccioneddus with Lamb Ragù & Pecorino Sardo – is originally from Sardinia. Although this is a dish traditionally served at weddings, we're skipping the ceremony and going straight to the reception! When preparing this dish, Vanna makes the lamb ragù first, as it requires some time simmering to meld the flavours. The ragù is well seasoned with a selection of fresh herbs, including rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and sage, as well as a Sardinian spice mixture akin to allspice.
Next, Vanna makes the ciccioneddus, which are simply made with semolina flour and warm, salted water. Once mixed, this dough is called su cumassu in Sardinian dialect. Vanna recruits friends and family to help make the ciccioneddus. They roll pieces of dough along a grooved board to form the ciccioneddus, or gnocchi sardi as they are also called. If made about twice as big, the pasta becomes malloredus, another typically Sardinian pasta shape. Once cooked, the lamb ragù is ladled over the ciccioeddus and finished with pecorino sardo, a Sardinian hard sheep’s milk cheese. Buon appetito!
Alba's Tagliatelle with Ragù & Parmigiano Reggiano
For this Tagliatelle with Ragù & Parmigiano Reggiano, Alba starts with the ragù, which is made with a mixture of meats – minced beef, pork, and pancetta. A key additional – and somewhat controversial – ingredient is full-fat milk. Alba uses this instead of the more common red wine as it lends a creaminess to the ragù. Also, rather than using a storebought passata, or tomato puree, Alba blends cans of whole cherry tomatoes as she feels these lend a better flavour. The ragù then needs to simmer for a couple of hours, giving Alba plenty of time to make the tagliatelle.
After making the dough and rolling it out into a sheet – or sfoglia – Alba cuts the tagliatelle into strips. If the pasta begins to stick to itself, Alba grates Parmigiano Reggiano over it rather than flour to avoid the past being coated in too much flour. Once the tagliatelle are complete, Alba mixes them with the ragù and finishes with a dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Rosetta's Trofie with Basil Sauce & Parmigiano Reggiano
Our next dish – Trofie with Basil Sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano – hails from the coastal Italian region of Liguria. As Rosetta’s basil pesto includes a traditional Ligurian cheese – prescinsêua – we’ve opted to call this Basil Sauce, so as not to offend the pesto purists. However, for Rosetta, this sauce is her pesto alla genovese. Throughout Liguria, every family makes a basil pesto, each with its own variations. Rosetta’s pesto has basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, salt, prescinsêua, grana padano, and pecorino sardo. These ingredients are then blended together in a food processor until creamy.
For the pasta, Rosetta makes the traditional trofie shape commonly found throughout Liguria. To start, Rosetta mixes boiling water with ‘00’ flour and kneads until the dough is soft. To shape the trofie, Rosetta rolls small pieces of dough with the edge of her hand. The trick is to make trofie of all the same size and with the characteristic twirl, ideal for catching the creamy pesto sauce. Once cooked, the trofie are mixed with the pesto and green beans – a typical Ligurian addition to this dish. As there is plenty of cheese in the pesto, Rosetta does not top the dish with any more cheese.
Emilia's 'Guitar' Spaghetti with Tiny Meatballs & Pecorino
For our final dish, we have a typical dish from Abruzzo – ‘Guitar’ Spaghetti with Tiny Meatballs & Pecorino. Emilia starts by making spaghetti alla chitarra, which gets its name from the guitar-like tool used to cut the spaghetti. This creates strands with the desired square cross-section. Once the spaghetti is made, Emilia moves onto the pallottine, or tiny meatballs, which should be the size of chickpeas.
As rolling pallottine is a time-intensive process, it is one of the first things a nonna will teach her grandchildren to help speed up the process. And children's small hands are ideal for helping out! Once all the pallottine are rolled, they are fried and added to tomato sauce. Simmering them together for a couple of minutes helps meld the flavours of the meatballs with the tomato sauce. Once cooked, the spaghetti is mixed with the tomato sauce and the pallottine are ladled on top!
Now that you know all about Pasta Grannies, and especially Vanna, Alba, Rosetta and Emilia, head over to our weekly menu to try one of their pasta dishes. Use code BLOG50 for 50% off your first order!