We have frequented a small bar just down the hill from our farmhouse that serves a great hot lunch, or “tavola calda” a few times since we came to Umbria and one of the most memorable pasta dishes we enjoyed there was called Pasta Mediterraneo. When we asked for a description of the pasta we were told it was simply mediterranean vegetables that were sauteed in a frying pan and tossed with pasta. The pasta dish we were served was made with strongozzi, a twisted short pasta commonly served in Umbria and the completed pasta dish was sprinkled with grated ricotta salata cheese. It was such a simple dish, yet so tasty that I knew I would have to make it myself at home. In my version, I used fresh orechiette pasta in place of the strongozzi simply because I had it on hand, but any short pasta such as penne, or rigatoni would work just as well. Since the sauce for this pasta is rather dry, save a small cup of the water used to cook the pasta to add in the final mixing to moisten the dish as needed.
The Cooked Diced Vegetables Used As The “Sauce” For The Pasta
Deborah Mele 2011
- I Pound Short Pasta
- 1 Small Eggplant Cut Into 1 Inch Dice
- 1 Red Pepper Cut Into 1 Inch Dice
- 1 Zucchini Cut Into 1 Inch Dice
- 1 Small Red Onion Cut Into 1 Inch Dice
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 Tablespoons Fresh Chopped Basil
- Grated Ricotta Salata Cheese
- Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta, and while water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.
- Once hot, add the diced vegetables and cook over medium heat, stirring often until the vegetables are very soft and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Cook your pasta of choice until it is "al dente".
- Drain, reserving a small cup of pasta water and toss the pasta with the cooked vegetables and chopped fresh basil.
- Add enough water to keep the pasta moist, and cook place the pasta pot over high heat for a couple more minutes, stirring continually until everything is well blended and piping hot.
- Serve the pasta in individual bowls with a sprinkling of grated ricotta salata cheese on top.