Pasta varies greatly not only in shapes but more importantly in texture, taste and quality. Pasta Poetry is rolled or “laminate”pasta which is quite different than its extruded cousin: much finer texture, more delicate; stands on its own with extremely light and simply  elegant saucing. It is made with highest quality durum, real eggs and flavored with spinach or tomatoes etc. It is high in protein and complex carbs with no trans fat. It requires a fraction of the water to cook and also less salt. The cappellini cooks in one minute and the fettuccine and pappardelle a bit more than that (as opposed to 12 or more minutes for extruded). And because of its porous and velvety texture requires less sauce; in fact less is better. Remember here the pasta is the star and the sauce is the supporting role!


With fresh rolled air dried pasta it is important to be ready to go once it is cooked. Always prepare warmed bowls with a bit of excellent olive oil and fresh grated cheese (unless it is a fish dish) and perhaps a bit of beautiful green herbs and/or lemon zest. Put pasta into salted boiling water ( you don’t need great volumes!) and stir carefully. After about 60 seconds test. It should be soft but have a bit of bite in it. Remove with tongs and toss in sauté pan with “sauce” adding reserved pasta water as needed. Arrange (about 2 -3oz,) in a small nest in plate. Finish pasta with drizzle of your sauce, olive oil and the tiniest bit of herb if desired. (Regarding olive oil: get the best available! extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil of the most recent harvest. It makes all the difference. Remember that olive oil does not do well in light or warmth. Discard olive oil that has gone off! ) Rolled pasta requires little embellishment as flavors are absorbed easily. You don’t want to cover up the exquisite flavor of the pasta itself. Serve promptly so get everyone to “tavola” before serving. Tante Belle Cose !There is a saying in Italy “L’occhio vuole la sua parte” The eye wants its part. To the makers of pasta that is culinary poetry, presentation is just as important as the quality of the food itself!

Garlic & Olive oil

” Aglio e Olio” is one of the purest and most delicious ways to sauce an excellent handmade pasta; best with capellini but good with all cuts. “

Good fresh olive oil
Fresh grated Romano
Salt & pepper ( a few flakes pepperoncini if you like)

Brown pieces of garlic in a good fresh olive oil, remove and set on paper towels. Cook in salted boiling water for about 60 seconds and remove with tongs to pan. Turn on medium flame and toss in infused oil adding pasta water until you like doneness. Salt & pepper and arrange on plate. Finish with fresh grated Romano and if you like crumble garlic on top.(If you are having fish add lemon zest… with meat or chicken add some stock and peperoncini.)

Fresh Tomato

” Al Pomodoro” is very traditional northern style although there are many versions of this. “

Fresh tomatoes
Grated romano or parmigiano
Salt & pepper ( julienned basil optional)

Blanch several fresh tomatoes (Put fresh tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds or until skin starts to curl a bit then put under COLD water ). Peel, gently dice and heat quickly for about 30 seconds. Cook pasta about 60 sec. in salted boiling water. Put pasta in pan with tomatoes, add salt & pepper and just combine adding pasta water if needed. Birdnest pasta on warmed plate and finish with grated cheese. If you like finish with julienned basil or lemon zest

Use as many or few tomatoes as you like!

Traditional Northern Lasagna

Bolognese is a northern sauce that traditionally contains several kinds of chopped meat, soffrito and tomatoes. It can vary quite a bit according to region! This is a classic northern “white” lasagna that is creamy and soft in flavor. Rich but again light in texture.

1 small carrot diced
1 med celery stalk diced
1 med onion diced
1 lb chopped pork
1/2 lb veal
1/2 lb beef
( a few pieces chopped pancetta optional )
2 bay leaves ( Not traditional but nice
4 large tomatoes or (small can)
excellent grade olive oil
Romano grated cheese
Fresh basil optional

In a large sauce pan cook meat until it just loses color. If you use pancetta cook it with chopped meats. Remove and salute vegetables in oil until just tender. Add tomatoes ( pass thru food mill if desired) & bay leaves: salt & pepper to taste. Simmer for about an hr or 2 until bolognese looks the consistency you like. (add grated nutmeg to taste. It is different and quite wonderful: optional)….(if you have cheese rinds throw them in the sauce….take out when done. )

1 qt whole milk
1/4 lb butter
several tbsp unbleached flour
fresh grated nutmeg

Melt butter and add flour mixing to incorporate. If too loose add flour until it is thick but not dry. Add about 1 cup milk and whisk adding milk until smooth. Add rest of milk mixing occasionally until thickened to consistency of very heavy cream. Add nutmeg to taste/

Assemble as any lasagna layering cooked pasta sheets , bolognese, bechamel and cheese. Salt & pepper each layer to taste. Finish with all ingredients and fresh basil or chopped parsley. Drizzle an excellent olive oil to serve.

As light as a cloud traditional white northern lasagna has many possible variations.

Fresh summer pasta: Fettucine & Cappellini

A fresh and light pasta full of intense summer flavors!

2 large tomatoes ( optional peeled )
4 large cloves minced
several anchovy filets mashed
1/4 cup capers ( to taste)
a dozen or so fresh basil leaves julienned
fresh romano
salt & pepper to taste

Finely chop tomatoes, garlic & good anchovies (TRY NOT TO OMIT these as they take the dish to another level!) a handful of capers, 10 or so large basil leaves julienned. Put in a ceramic bowl, add olive oil and mix slighty & very gently with hands. Prepare plates with “sauce” by sprinkling abitaround the plate: add a swirl of olive oil. Cook pasta and remove from water with tongs & gently mix in bowl with sauce . Birdnest on plate and sprinkle more “sauce” sparingly on top and finish with freshly grated cheese and somebasil leaves…beautiful! (lemon zest, of course! would enhance this lovely dish.)

Alfredo: Fettucine

Fettucine Alfredo is a “new” pasta style from Rome in the early 1900’s and is one of the simplest and most elegant ways to prepare beautiful fresh fettuccine.

Butter 6 tblsp
Cream 1 cup
Romano or Parmesan to taste

Melt butter & cream in a saute pan. Cook pasta for about 1 minute and add dripping to cream mixture. Toss to coat and add cheese salt and pepper. As simple and delicious as it gets!

Pasta al Prosciutto

This is a rich and intense cousin of Alfredo. Very elegant for dinner parties.

6-8 tblsp butter ( I sometimes use 1/2 olive oil)
Prosciutto cubed or sliced about 4oz
1/2 & 1/2 about a cup
parmigiano ( or romano)
fresh grated nutmeg to taste
finely chopped parsley

Melt several butter and about prosciutto in saucepan ( to heat only) take off heat and hold. Cook fettucine pasta and add to butter & prosciutto Add about a cup of cream immediately and toss in pan loosening to taste with pasta water ( I use light cream because heavy is too rich for me) Salt and pepper & fresh nutmeg ; finish with grated romano or parmigiana and nutmeg & parsley. You can make this as rich or light as you choose…all the flavors are there…Can finish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh Italian parsley.

Summer Spinach Pasta

This is a visually bright, healthful & light pasta. Beautiful presentation with vibrant green spinach, yellow lemon zest and white specks of cheese!

Fresh Baby Spinach Washed and dried ( handful per person )
pancetta cut in small pieces
resh coarsely chopped garlic to taste
drop lemon juice & lemon zest
romano grated

Lightly saute garlic and pancetta in very fresh olive oil & remove from heat. Turn off heat, add spinach and gently stir, cover and turn every minute or so until wilted. Add a couple drops of lemon & lemon zest. Cook fettucine and add to pan tossing gently to cover. When done to liking bird nest on plate and finish with romano , oil and zest. add pepperoncini for a bit of interest.

Black Satin ( Squid Ink )

Spanish squid ink is one of nature’s most exotic culinary gifts! Its flavor is truly the gentle essence of the sea.

Black satin pasta. ( 2oz per person )
1 large prawn, I sea scallop, 1 oyster, 1 mussel per person
Small piece salmon and cod per person ( or bass etc)
Olive oil & butter
Garlic, parsley, basil, lemon zest
White wine
optional julienned basil
caviar! ( optional)

Place all shellfish in sauté pan with garlic, olive oil and butter. Sauté until done maybe a minute or two. Place pieces of fish on top and cover. Let steam until just done. Remove all seafood to bowl. Turn fire on high and add a big splash of white wine and reduce a minute or so. Cook pasta in salted boiling water one minute and remove with tongs dripping into the sauté pan. Toss gently , salt and pepper to taste. Arrange pasta in large heated bowl and place seafood on pasta. Drizzle jus on top and finish with julienned basil and parsley. Add lemon zest and a dollop of caviar if available!
( of course you can use any combination of seafood you like. Very little is needed as the pasta stands well on its own! But be creative! )

Gorgeous to look at and sumptuous to eat. As simple as this or embellished with sea food and caviar black satin is a culinary gift!

Porcini Pappardelle

Intense, earthy flavors of mushroom in both the pasta and its sauce. This is good for both fettuccine and pappardelle.

Fresh Porcini ( handful) or any combo fresh wild mushrooms
olive oil & butter
1 shallot
dry white wine
demi glace or glace de viande ( optional)
parsley chopped

Bring a pot of water salted with sea salt to a gentle boil. Using several varieties of choice (porcini, cremini, oyster, shiitake, etc.), cut mushrooms uniformly but in different shapes. In a large pan, saute slowly: chopped shallots to taste, finely sliced endive until just wilted and add mushrooms. Use good fresh olive oil and butter. Cook until golden brown on both sides and add a big splash of a high acid white wine. Add a good spoonful of demi-glace if you have some and set aside until pasta cooks. Cook pasta until barely tender and then add pasta still dripping with water to mushrooms, tossing several times to coat until texture is just right for you (adding pasta water if necessary); salt & pepper. Arrange on a hot plate with a swirl of your bestolive oil, chopped fresh parsley, arugula or basil and fresh lemon zest to taste.

NOTES! Don’t forget this is just a map. Many wonderful flavors go beautifully with this porcini so be inventive. Just beware of over-saucing. This authentic “laminated” or rolled pasta stands alone, is delicate and porous and does not tolerate massive saucing techniques used with extruded products. Choose FRESH and uniform mushrooms. For 8 oz of pasta, I use (maximum) around a pound. Use more if you like, but try not to overdress the pasta. Always add water to have a nice wetness about the sauce if it begins to absorb and dry a bit.

Parsley Pappardelle “Summer Vegetable Chicken Soup”

Be creative with this: great in a vegetarian version also. Presentation is key!

Parsley Pappardelle
poached chicken pieces ( bite size) or keep it vegetarian
unsalted butter
homemade chicken stock ( Stock left from poaching chicken) or vegetable stock
sea salt
splash Champagne vinegar
english peas fresh if possible
carrots julienned
any great radishes available
fresh corn if available
(etc etc use what wonderful vegetables are in season: be creative!)

Poach Julienned carrots, peas, zucchini, radishes or whatever beautiful fresh vegetables you have in fresh stock and remove as soon a slightly tender: set aside. Put a couple of pats of butter and vinegar in stock and reduce until a bit viscous. Cook pappardelle for about a minute and lay strips of pasta in a bowl, carefully pouring stock down side of bowl until it lifts pasta. Add vegetables and finish with a bit of Romano and lemon zest: and a twirl of good olive oil ( maybe a few pepperoncini flakes!) salt and pepper to taste.

Porcini Lasagna

This is a sumptuous elegant lasagna filled with the delicate flavors of mushroom and artichoke: a heavenly combination.

Fresh pasta sheets either porcini or traditional egg 1 lb
(cook and plunge in ice water . Layer in parchment, wrap tightly and hold in refrigerator up to 2 days)
Porcini mushrooms or mixture of fresh available mushrooms about 4 cups
1 Shallot sliced
Bechamel sauce ( Milk, butter, flour, nutmeg ) about a quart
Fresh artichoke hearts ( you can use prepared hearts but rinse if they are in vinegar!)
Parmigiano or Romano about 1 1/2 cups or so
drizzle of high quality truffle oil (optional)

Bechamel sauce about 1 quartMelt a cube of butter or a bit less if you like. Add several heaping tbsp . of flour until you get a good thick roux, not dry! Add whole milk or 2% if you like and whisk until smooth…add rest of one quart milk and heat on medium until it simmers and is thicker. Grate fresh nutmeg to taste. Saute a handful of thinly sliced Shallots remove and set aside. Saute mushrooms in olive oil & butter until carmelized : add big splash white wine, let steam off and add shallots. Set aside. Cook artichokes and remove hearts. Slice about 1/4 inch thick and set aside or good quality preserved artichoke Hearts and do the same. (If they are very acid rinse in milk or water and dry. Pull off anything spiny or chewy.) Set aside. Cook pasta sheets until not quite tender and cool in ice water. Layer Bechamel, mushroom, pasta; béchamel, artichoke hearts, grated romano, pasta and so on: remember to salt & pepper. If you like a little heat add peperoncini. Finish with Bechamel and whatever is left and cheese….

Cook in 375 degree oven until bubbling about 30 minutes…let rest 15-20 minutes. Serve in warmed bowls and finish with fresh parsley and lemon zest and very good olive oil: Serve with  if possible real shaved truffles! If not available use the best fresh high quality truffle oil you can find. Do not make lasagnas too deep…2 inches or so is good

(I like to make sauce on one day and cook the pasta sheets the day before. I also will do béchamel and reheat in microwave before assembling lasagna. Putting it together will only take a short time if if you it in steps!)

Fire House (Pepperoncino)

This is truly a spicy pasta so mild sweet meats go very nicely and round its “fire” out.

A few ideas

Mild sausage Italian style or ground pork maybe turkey
Olive oil
Chicken stock
Lemon zest
Grated romano
Chopped parsley

Take sausage out of casing and sauté just to take color off. Add some good chicken stock( just enough to see a little liquid) Cook pasta in salted boiling water for about 1 minute and remove carefully with tongs to sauté pan. Toss gently to coat adding pasta water if necessary. To serve take a fork and birdnest pasta finishing with romano, zest and fresh chopped parsley. A nice variation is adding a generous spoon of marscapone!

Spelt/Buckwheat Pasta

Spelt/ Buckwheat pasta ( 2oz per serving)
anchovy filets to taste ( do not omit!)
olive oil
raw minced garlic
fresh chopped parsley
lemon zest
Romano freshy grated

Heat olive oil pulverizing anchovy filets until they dissolve into oil. Remove from heat and add garlic to taste. Cook pasta and remove at 1 minute and put dripping into pan. Toss over medium heat for a few seconds. Add grated romano and lemon zest to taste. Birdnest in plate and sprinkle parsley to finish. This pasta is best with strong sharp flavors!

“Spaghetti & Meatballs”

This will give you a new perspective on the American spaghetti and meatballs! I grind my own pork from chops but you can easily get it from the market already ground. Just play with ingredients after you’re familiar changing the flavors subtly with herbs or meats.

about 1/2 lb ground pork & 1/2 lb ground beef or veal: about 3 oz pancetta or really good bacon cut in very small pieces
about 5 oz of day old bread or dried bread cubes finely ground
about 1/2 cup of good fresh ricotta
2 xlg eggs
about 1/3 cup milk
a handful of finely chopped fresh parsley and several tsp. of your favorite dried herbs or whatever is in the pantry & Pepperoncini flakes to taste
olive oil, salt pepper
San Marzano tomatoes about 2 lbs
fresh green herb of choice, basil, thyme etc.
fresh grated cheese of choice

Mix all the meats together with herbs and salt & pepper. Mix the ricotta, milk and eggs. Mix both together blending lightly but uniformly. Form into small meatballs about 1 in in diameter. Lightly brown in sauce pan. Be sure to turn so they brown on all sides. ( you may put in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes but be sure to turn so they brown evenly ) Puree the San Marzanos and bring to a simmer on stove top. Carefully add meatballs and simmer for about 1 – 1 1/2 hrs.( Reserve some tomato (coulis) for bottom of plate!)

Cook any cut of pasta and put in sauce pan prepared with olive oil dripping with pasta water. Salt & pepper to taste. Toss alternately adding water and grated cheese (about 1 minute)
Put a spoonful of tomato coulis on warmed plate and pile the pasta in the middle. Arrange several meatballs in plate and finish with grated cheese and green herb of your choice. A little coarse lemon zest is wonderful on this too! A new take on an old favorite.

(The ratio of meat to bread is about 4/1 including the pancetta or bacon. These meatballs should be moist and very light.)

Tomato with Duck Confit