And now autumn has arrived. If I look back, it was September, but I’m marking my calendar for new deadlines and I’m already in December. I’m working an a new exciting project, and I am already running out of time. I look around me and already spot the changing colours, I feel the cold draw in and feel the need to light the stove at home for a few hours in order to warm the air. Autumn arrived, bringing with it new commitments, responsibilities, a new pace of life, rain, fog. Do I like it? Honestly, yes!
Our vegetable garden is also following the pace of the new season. The carrots and red onions arrived, too, broccoli from the garden and a spoonful of breadcrumbs, because, as well all know, it’s the little things that make life special. It was a natural occurrence to stock up on vegetables: perhaps broccoli and red onions won’t succeed in making me forget about aubergines and their summery taste, but they have managed to reawaken autumnal memories, which I like, with the dry scent of wood from the stove, an extra blanket on the bed to keep you warm, your hands shoved into your pockets to heat them.
…and then, should we speak about the wonders of breadcrumbs?
So simple and basic, yet they can enrich a dish, transforming it into something which is one-of-a-kind, surprising you. Take, for example, this tagliatelle with carrots, broccoli and red onions. Ok, so red onions have been one of my top foods of the last few weeks, especially when they are oven-roasted with other vegetables, they are sweet-tasting and when cooked for a medium-long length of time, the edges become caramelized and are delicious…
Would they be enough alone to make the tagliatelle so special? Maybe not. But a few spoonfuls of breadcrumbs, yes, they can make all the difference. They are made by food processing the left over, hard bits of bread, which I keep in a paper bag. They are toasted in the pan with a little oil and anchovies and soak up all the flavours of the vegetables. They give the tagliatelle a crunch, dotting the dish with little nuggets of gold.
- 100 g of ‘00’ flour
- 100 g of semolina flour
- A pinch of salt
- A teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium eggs
- 3 anchovy fillets in oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 small red onions
- 250 g of broccoli
- 3 spoonfuls of breadcrumbs
- Sift the tender wheat flour with the semolina flour, pour them on a wooden board or a large working surface and make a well in the middle.
- Break in the eggs and add a good pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Mix the flour and the eggs with a fork until crumbly, then knead the dough, adding cold water if needed. Keep on kneading, more and more, as to develop the gluten which will give strength to the sheets of pasta. Just do as when you knead the bread: hold it with one hand while you roll it from you with the other, with the heel of the palm.
- After a while the dough should have the right consistency: smooth, velvety and no longer sticky.
- Wrap it in plastic film and let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Now roll the dough. The most important thing, whether you’re using a classic long rolling pin or a pasta machine, is to roll it over and over again, rolling and stretching it as much as you can.
- Make a paper thin wide sheet of pasta.
- Leave the pasta sheets for 30 minutes on a tablecloth dusted with semolina flour, or over some well cleaned traditional reeds, as we would make in my family.
- Cut the pasta into 1 cm wide strips with the pasta machine or by hand, rolling the sheets up and cutting them with a sharp knife across intro strips.
- Spread them all out on a cloth and leave them until time to cook them.
- Now make the sauce. Cook down the anchovies with a few spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat, then add the carrots cut into rounded slices, the finely chopped onion and the broccoli florets cut into two. Season with salt, if necessary, and cook at a medium-to-low heat for 25 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
- Finally, add another spoon of oil and the breadcrumbs and mix to toast the bread.
- Cook the tagliatelle until al dente in salted, boiling water – this will only take a few minutes –drain, tip into the pan and mix with the vegetables for a minute to infuse the flavours. Serve straight away, with some parmesan shavings on the side, for anyone who may wish to add some.