It is the greatest classic of Italian cuisine, a true symbol of Italy in the world. But to do it to perfection, we reveal some tricks!
Versatile, light and tasty, with the right mix of nutrients and the possibility of being combined with many dishes, even very different ones. It is the ingredient that makes a meal, or even capable of turning a boring party into an effervescent party, as happens in Barilla's latest global spot, in which we see Davide Oldani and the tennis champion Federer working at the stove in the preparation of a tasty spaghetti that will bring back the enthusiasm among all the guests.
But since when you are dealing with such an important element of the history of Italian cuisine you always have to start from the basics, we decided to investigate further trivia, tips and tricks, three pasta dishes that are among the emblems of the culinary tradition of the Bel Paese.
Pasta with ragù Bolognese style
Bolognese ragù is a piece of Italian cooking history. Imitated, copied, sometimes even offended by somewhat questionable reinterpretations. And if the meat sauce recipe is mandatory, a separate chapter in-depth deserves pasta, as important as the sauce in the success of the dish.
The origins of this dish are very ancient, there is even talk of the end of the 1700s, when Alberto Alvisi, the personal chef of the Cardinal of Imola, officially began preparing meat sauce with minced meat. What kind of pasta Alvisi combines with Bolognese ragù is not known, but anyone who cares about the sacredness of this dish will tell you that it wasn't the spaghetti.
Even if you've seen them with meat sauce in almost every part of the world – and sometimes even in Italy – any chef (amateur or not) in Bologna and the surrounding area will tell you that this is a huge mistake. The pasta to combine with Bolognese sauce is strictly tagliatelle, better egg-based because it is more porous and perfect for holding the sauce. Try the Tagliatelle with Barilla Emiliane egg, which present a rule of art pastry that combines durum wheat semolina and fresh eggs from free-range hens, in 2 millimeters thick. So why are there so many spaghetti menus around? Perhaps because vermicelli were used in the past – also due to the inflections of southern Italian cuisine – and the great confusion that exists abroad about the various cuts of pasta did the rest.
If you really don't want to use noodles and prefer the short pasta, butterflies or feathers are allowed, rigorously striped to marry better with the sauce. In the traditional recipe we also speak about the meat to be used for the preparation of the ragù: the beef folder (pulp, belly, shoulder fesone or spindle) and the stretched bacon.
Remember, going back to the pasta, to salt the water before lowering it (approximately 1 liter of water with 10 grams of salt every 100 grams of pasta) and always respect the cooking times, without relying on personal sensations.
Spaghetti cheese and pepper
The much-mistreated spaghetti Bolognese ragu make their reappearance, this time from absolute and correct protagonists, when we talk about another recipe, this time of the Lazio tradition of our kitchen. Let's talk about spaghetti cacio e pepe, a real must among the simplest first courses (in the ingredients) but tasty. The recipe to prepare them is simple but must be followed step by step to achieve a satisfactory result.
There shouldn't be any need for it but it is good to repeat it, one of the tricks (if not the most important one) for preparing spaghetti cacio e pepe in a perfect way ismandatory use of pecorino romano like cheese. Remember that depending on the seasoning of the cheese you have chosen, you will also have to change the amount of water for the preparation of the cream.
For a more professional preparation use the black pepper in grains and not the one already ground, toasting it in the pan just before using it.
Going back to pasta, remember to use high quality spaghetti, such as the Spaghetti N ° 5 by Barilla, prepared with excellent durum wheat and dies redesigned in detail for a consistent taste and to retain the best sauces. Do not cream them on the pan with the fire burning: the cream of cheese will turn into a lumpy dough that will remove the taste and creaminess of the dish.
Last tip on cooking pasta. In the cheese and pepper it must be drained long before the optimal cooking because it needs to make another pan with water and pecorino.
Pasta and beans
Pasta and beans is a typical dish of Italian cuisine that undergoes variations depending on the latitude to which it is prepared. The traditional recipe – which for many is the Neapolitan one – requires that the pasta is cooked in the same pot in which the beans are cooked, instead of being cooked in salted water separately, as happens in other recipes.
In the preparation you can use the pancetta or – according to the country tradition – the pork rind and it is always better to clean the beans the day before cooking and leave them to soak overnight to make them more tender and creamy.
Although not everyone agrees, precisely because the various regional recipes, using different ingredients, have different peculiarities, one of the tips for the success of pasta and beans is to use egg pasta, absolutely short, more porous and therefore ideal to give even more creaminess to the dish. If you don't want to use egg pasta, choose however a short format to taste among maltagliati, tubes and rigorously striped ditalini or let yourself be tempted – if you are not purists of the kind – from the always good mixed pasta. Barilla offers different short pasta shapes to choose from for an excellent pasta and beans.
If you want to prepare a recipe even richer in vegetable proteins, choose a type of pasta (always short) of type whole wheat. Remember that in pasta and beans also the cooking water is an essential element in the recipe, it must therefore be salted correctly and used to cream the dish (if you do not directly cook the pasta with the beans) at the end of cooking.
In the Roman tradition the perfect format of pasta to use is called sagne, a kind of short cut tagliatelle made fresh with water and flour and cooked with a mixture of celery, garlic, rosemary, bacon and cannellini beans.
The secret to the creaminess of the recipe is only one: Cook the pasta slowly, directly in the beans. The starch, in contact with the beans, will give life to the typical cream of pasta and beans cooked to the rule of art.