Italian

Ù Tridd: The Pasta From Puglia You Need To Know

Ù Tridd Puglia Pasta

My mother Vincenza is a bit of a legend. She cooks food that seems so simple, yet is layered and nuanced and cooked with so much soul. This is a recipe from her mother Rose, it’s called ù tridd. It’s essentially a hand torn southern style pasta, laced with fresh parsley; similar to stracci (which literally translates into ‘rags’ or ‘tatters’).

Of course, you can swap out the water for stock or add garlic and more herbs to add another dimension of flavour, but then again, why mess with an OG Italian Nonna recipe? The origins of this recipe are from the Tatolli family’s town of Molfetta, which is part of the Puglia region of Southern Italy. As such, this recipe is rooted in humble ingredients; you won’t find rich butter, cream, truffles or other luxury ingredients here. Clean and simple, this is a case study in soul food.

Ingredients

The pasta

3 cups fine semolina

3 cups Tipo 00 pasta flour (plain flour will suffice if needed)

4 eggs

1 handful continental parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 - 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (as needed)

Extra flour to roll out

The broth

2 veal shins (you can also use lamb shanks or beef ossobuco)

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, peeled and roughly chopped

1 large brown onion, peeled and quartered

1 few sprigs of fresh parsley

500ml tomato sugo

Salt and pepper to taste

Finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve

Method

For the pasta, in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the semolina, flour and eggs and turn the mixer on a low setting. When combined, add the parsley and continue to mix until combined. Gradually add water until the dough comes together. Continue mixing until the dough is no longer sticky and has become soft and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and roll the dough into a log roughly 50cm long and 20cm wide. Cut sections around 3cm and pass them through a pasta roller several times so that the dough is smooth and uniform in thickness (around setting 3-4). Set aside to dry for at least 2 hours on wooden dowels… a clothes drying rack will also suffice! Once dry, tear the pasta sheets unto small pieces around the size of your pinky thumbprint. The beauty of this dish is that you don’t have to be too careful, just make sure the pieces are roughly the same size. Set aside to continue to dry out until ready to use. This pasta can be completely dried out and stored for later use.

For the broth, bring a heavy based saucepan or pot to a medium high heat and add a good slug of olive oil. When the pan is hot, sear the shanks until lightly browned on all sides. Throw in the carrots, celery and onion and parsley and stir to combine. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to go translucent. Pour in the sugo and then top with enough water to cover the shanks. Bring to the boil, season liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then reduce to a low heat, cover and simmer for 90 minutes. Skim any fat if necessary. Season again to taste at the end. When the shanks are falling apart, strain the liquid from the solids. Reserve the meat, lightly shred, then set aside.

To serve, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, throw in a good handful of the pasta per person and cook for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Strain and refresh in cold water. In a separate pot, bring the deliciously meaty tomato broth to the boil. Add the cooked pasta and the shredded meat. Season to taste, then serve immediately, topped with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or any sharp, hard Italian cheese, some freshly cracked black pepper and chopped parsley, if desired.

Mama Vincenza's Italian stuffed squid

Calamari al forno.jpg

On a recent trip to South Australia to visit my in-laws, I managed to consume heroic amounts of food cooked by my incredible Italian mother-in-law, because Italians know no other way than to feed family. Vincenza's family is from Molfetta, part of the region of Puglia (the bit that forms the heel of the boot) in southern Italy and the region is known for its incredible seafood produce. In true Italian home cook style, the recipes she cooked were passed down from her mother, and mostly exist in the heart, instead of on paper. Vincenza's stuffed squid is a dish my husband Joe has drawn inspiration from over the years, and it is truly one of the most simple, delicious things you can learn to cook when it comes to squid. She calls it 'calamari al forno', I call it delicious.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/4 small bunch of Continental parsley, leaves picked

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

2 tbs olive oil

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup rice crumbs

50g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, finely grated

The juice of half a lemon (reserve the zest)

4 large eggs

8 medium (or 4 large) squid tubes, cleaned

1 brown onion, finely sliced

1 large jar passata (680g) 

Black pepper and salt, to taste

Method

Preheat an oven to 160c. In a deep baking tray or casserole dish, evenly spread about a third of parsley leaves and garlic slices along with the olive oil in the base of the dish. In a clean mixing bowl, combine the crumbs, cheese, lemon juice, eggs and the rest of the parsley and garlic into a bowl and mix well to combine. The mixture should resemble a soft, pliable dough. Add a little water or more breadcrumbs to achieve the consistency if needed. Season well with salt and pepper. This egg and crumb mixture also works well as a bread dumpling/meat-free alternative to meatballs when cooked in tomato sauce. 

Fill each squid tube with the breadcrumb mixture (it will expand when cooked, so take care not to overstuff), then place in the baking tray. Continue until all the squid tubes are stuffed. Scatter the sliced onion and the reserved lemon zest over the top of the squid, then pour the passata over the top of the squid, adding a little water to the mixture if required, to ensure the squid are more or less covered. This will prevent the squid from drying out while cooking, but reduce into a rich sauce by the time it's done. Season with more black pepper and salt. 

Bake in the oven for one hour, then remove and allow to cool and garnish with more parsley and lemon zest before serving. This dish serves as an excellent antipasti, served cold the next day, sliced and dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. 

 

The Cupboard Is Bare Pasta

cupboard is bare pasta

I moved house this week. In the midst of the packing and unpacking chaos, there was a point where the kitchen was bare, save for a few dry store ingredients, and as my fridge hadn't arrived from Sydney, it became an exercise in cooking from shelf stable ingredients only. Hard? Not really, so long as you have a few handy staples with you. So this recipe also doubles as a list of shelf stable foods you should never live without. 

This recipe is kinda-cabonara in style (minus the pork component) and is proof that you can cook something delicious with just a small handful of ingredients, whether you're on a shoestring budget...or the cupboard is just bare!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Good quality dried pasta (I love Martelli)

2 egg yolks (that's right, eggs don't require refrigeration!)

1 tablespoon olive oil

A good few pinches sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon store bought fried shallots (from the Asian grocery aisle in any supermarket)

Method:

Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Once cooked, drain MOST of the water (you will need about 1/4 cup of that starchy water to bind the pasta sauce together). Pour the olive oil into the pasta and reserved water and toss to combine. Whisk the egg yolks and pour them into the pot, tossing again to combine everything. Add in a few good pinches of sea salt and a few grinds of pepper and toss everything again. Taste, for seasoning and once happy, divide between two plates or bowls. Garnish with fried shallots and a little more pepper and you're done! 

 

 

Pasta-free Lasagne with XO

Pasta free lasagne

My Italian mother-in-law would probably have a heart attack for calling something 'lasagne' that contains no pasta, but seeing as my husband made this particular recipe with me, we'll let it slide. We decided to replace the pasta sheets with layers of eggplant and zucchini on account of coming home from the Australian Financial Review Top 100 Restaurant Awards in Sydney after an epic 4 days of eating everything in sight (we went to Sokyo, Billy Kwong, Icebergs, The Dolphin, Hubert, Hubert again, Fratelli Paradiso, Automata, Ester and Din Tai Fung, just so you get the picture) and wanted to eat healthier without feeling like we were missing out on life.  Everything else about this dish is legit though, including the very handy Italian mama kitchen tip of using leftover charcuterie bits and pieces to add depth of flavour to sauces and stews (we used njduia). Add to that the not-very-Italian-mama tip of adding a little XO into sauces that aren't necessarily of Asian influence, and you have one rich, complex sauce that works well on pretty much anything. 

Ingredients

Red sauce

1 leek, washed and finely sliced

3 brown onions, peeled and finely sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

50g njduia (or any leftover pieces of salami, pancetta or bacon fat, finely chopped)

1/2 bottle of red wine

2 tins crushed tomatoes

1 strong tablespoon of XO paste

Salt &  pepper.

 

The rest

1 large eggplant, mandolined lengthways into 5mm sheets

2 large zucchinis, mandolined lengthways into 5mm sheets

200g fresh ricotta

1 handful parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 fennel bulb, sliced

Sea salt flakes

Freshly cracked black pepper

Olive oil

Method

Preheat an oven to 180c. For the red sauce, heat a large saucepan on a low to medium heat, then add a good slug of olive oil. Add the leeks, onion and garlic and cook until softened but the vegetables haven't taken on any colour. Take this opportunity to season the base. Add in the njduia (or chosen salumi) to the pan, burying it amongst the vegetables. It'll begin to break down and render the fat out. Once this happens, mix everything vigorously to combine. After another 2-3 minutes, add the wine. Cook over medium high heat until reduced by two thirds and the mixture is glossy and thick. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir to combine. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until reduced by about half and starts to take on a thick spoon-coating texture. Season with salt, pepper and XO to taste (this gives the sauce an umami punch and an extra dimension of flavour), then remove from heat and carefully transfer to a heatproof blender. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender on it's highest setting. Blitz the mixture on high into a smooth puree, then set aside to cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, prepare the ricotta filling by combining the ricotta with the chopped parsley in a bowl, mixing well. If the mixture is too thick, add a little olive oil to the mix. Season well with salt and pepper, then set aside. 

Line a baking dish with baking paper. Spread a few spoonfuls of the red sauce into the dish, then top with a layer of eggplant. Top with an even layer of ricotta, then more red sauce, then a layer of zucchini. Continue to alternate layers of eggplant, red sauce, ricotta, and zucchini, finishing with ricotta on top. Lay the fennel slices on top and cover with a layer of baking paper. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the baking paper, turn the oven up to 200c and continue to cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. 

Remove the lasagne from the oven and allow to cool and set before slicing, otherwise the whole thing will collapse. Serve the lasagne topped with Parmesan or pecorino, microplaned over the top, and a few basil leaves.