When Domenica asked me to take part to the Food bloggers pasta party to celebrate the launch of her brand new book, The Glorious Pasta of Italy, I was deeply honoured and excited. Why? Just have a look at Domenica’s blog, at her light-hearted yet professional recipes, at her enjoyable and sensitive writing, at her positive look at life and you’ll easily understand why I was so happy.
Domenica, as her name foretells, grew up in an Italian family: her mother was born on the hills around Chieti, on the Adriatic coast. She spent her summer holidays in Italy with her mother’s three sisters, all great cooks. She has a true passion for simple, honest food. You can almost touch this great respect for ingredients and traditions in her recipes and through her words. I was captured by her work, by this genuine love for food.
As Italian pasta lover, I couldn’t help but leafing through her new book for hours, lingering on beautifully photographed and well described recipes. A special mention to the fresh pasta chapter, enriched by step-by-step instructions and plenty of variations on the classic egg pasta. Thank you Domenica for being such a brilliant Ambassador for the authentic Italian food abroad!
So here we are, directly from Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Pasta of Italy, one of my favourite recipes. It is a genuine dish where the sweet tomatoes are gently matched with the creamy texture of robiola and the unexpected fennel seeds.
- 2 1/2 lb 1,2 kg plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 cup 120 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large cloves of garlic sliced paper-thin
- 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds lightly crushed
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb 445 g dried mafalde, pappardelle or fettuccine
- 8 oz 225 g of robiola cheese, cut into bite-size chunks
Heat the oven to 275°F7135°C7gas 1. Arrange the tomato halves, cut-side up, on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil over them. Scatter the garlic slices and fennel seeds over the tomatoes, and season with a generous sprinkling of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Roast the tomatoes for 3 to 4 hours, or until they have begun to collapse and are caramelized but are not dry. They should have some shriveling but still look juicy. Let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Then chop them coarsely and transfer them to a warmed serving bowl, along with any oil and juices left in the pan. Keep warm.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Add the pasta, stir to separate the noodles, and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup/240 ml of the cooking water.
Transfer the pasta to the serving bowl and strew the robiola pieces over it. Toss gently to combine the pasta, tomatoes and cheese thoroughly, taking care to break apart any large chunks of cheese that stick together. Add a little of the hot cooking water to the bowl to help melt the cheese a bit but not too much - you want some pieces in there. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if you like. Serve immediately.
I decided to keep it simple and test one of the most appetizing and simple recipes in the book, a tomato based sauce for mafalde, a large and flat kind of noodles with a cute curling on the edges. Am I Italian or not? So a good dish of tomato pasta is sometimes the best medicine for everything.
I fell in love with this pasta immediately from the mouth-watering picture, so I read the recipe with high expectations. I was entangled by the presence of crushed fennel seeds and by the idea of sweet slow roasted tomatoes, I could almost taste the milky and soft robiola. A real success with my guests, a new favourite to me! Buon Appetito!