For us, pasta is more than just a food. It is part of our histories. It is a good friend, a member of the family. It is something we love . . . When Italians offer a plate of pasta to friends or strangers, we are opening the doors of our homes and welcoming them inside in the most generous way. It is in that spirit that my mamma and I, who have had the good fortune to be accompanied all our lives by this most versatile of foods, invite you through the tall, ancient wooden doors of Gangivecchio and offer up these recipes, these one hundred versions of the golden strands, the god, pasta, to you. So put the water on to boil. And buon appetito! —Giovanna Tornabene, from her Introduction
Welcome back to Gangivecchio, where Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene, two-time James Beard Award winners and beloved doyennes of the Italian kitchen, have served up another irresistible helping of charm, wit, and culinary wisdom from the kitchen of the thirteenth-century abbey they call home. This time around, the dynamic mother-daughter duo takes us back to Sicilian basics, in a recipe-filled compendium and heartfelt tribute to the “queen of the Italian table”—pasta.
In 100 Ways to Be Pasta the Tornabenes once again weave memoir and history together with the vivid flavors of local village life, bringing us a true taste of Sicilian culture and cuisine. They incorporate lessons from basic pasta-cooking techniques to secret tips from old masters, and include an extensive glossary of pasta vocabulary, a dictionary of pasta types, and of course a generous sprinkling of anecdotes and advice.
All of this serves as a delightful setting for the one hundred authentic, mouth-watering recipes, lovingly honed and perfected in the old abbey kitchen. From quick, easy basics, like spaghetti with garlic, oil, and hot pepper or farfalle with peas and prosciutto, to traditional pasta soups like minestrone, to more elaborate baked and stuffed pastas like Baked Orecchiette with Lamb Ragù and Melted Mozzarella or Baked Timbale of Anelletti with Veal and Vegetables, each recipe serves up a little piece of Sicily for your very own kitchen.
As informative and useful to the beginner as to the experienced Italian cook, 100 Ways to Be Pasta is a must-have and a treasure for any cookbook shelf.
From the Hardcover edition.
Paolo's Pennette with Fresh Figs and PancettaPennette con Fichi e Pancetta di PaoloServes 6This is a recipe my brother invented, inspired from the fact that every day during the fall he walks out of his apartment at Gangivecchio to see the tons of fresh figs that have dropped off the two giant trees in the center of our courtyard. It's nice to serve this pasta with an additional whole fig, cut in quarters so that it opens like a flower with the contrast of the green peel and the red condimento.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil1 medium white onion, finely chopped1/4 pound pancetta (or bacon), cut into 1/2-inch cubes2 pounds fresh figs, peeled and diced1/2 cup dry red wineSalt and freshly ground black pepper1 pound pennetteFreshly grated Parmesan cheese1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until is is hot but not smoking. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the pancetta and cook until the pancetta and the onions are golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the figs and the wine and simmer just to soften the figs, about 5 minutes; don't cook the figs so long that they fall apart completely. Season with salt and pepper to taste and turn off the heat. 2. Meanwhile, bring a big saucepan of water to boil. Stir in a small fistful of salt and the pennette and cook until it is tender. Reserve a cupful of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.3. Quickly transfer the pasta to the pan with the figs and place over high heat. Add a splash of pasta water, stir gently to mix the condimento and pasta together, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, adding more pasta water if the pasta is dry or sticky. Serve hot with freshly grated Parmesan cheese at the table.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from 100 Ways to Be Pasta by Wanda Tornabene. Copyright © 2005 by Wanda Tornabene. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Wanda Tornabene
Wanda Tornabene and her daughter, Giovanna, live in the interior Madonie Mountains in Gangivecchio, Sicily, in a restored fourteenth-century Benedictine monastery, where they have operated a restaurant since 1978. The Tornabenes opened a nine-room albergo with a second restaurant, called Tenuta Gangivecchio, on the property in 1992. Tenuta Gangivecchio is run by Wanda's son, Paolo, and daughter-in-law, Betty.
Michele Evans is the author of thirteen previous cookbooks, and is also a travel writer. Her Caribbean Connoisseur: An Insider's Guide to the Islands' Best Hotels, Resorts, and Inns is in its third edition. She and her husband, Tully Plesser, are residents of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
From the Hardcover edition.