It may sound provocative, but I am up for anything. Cooking for events that is. If I have the time, I will have a dish for you. So when my girlfriends and I decided to hold a Girl's Night in for Breast Cancer Awareness evening this month, I knew I could contribute a pink dish. The only hitch? They wanted something savoury for the dinner. Sweets were sorted and were baggsed eagerly by the rest of the girls. They saved me the main as they knew that I liked a challenge (either that or they didn't want to deal with a pink main). I have been frantically busy with the Sydney International Food Festival so I hadn't really thought about what to do until a review copy of The Silver Spoon Pasta landed on my doorstep. I flicked through it poring over pasta dishes for my husband (who is a pasta fiend) before seeing a dish that was so perfect for my girlfriends and I that I placed the ribbon bookmark (pink of course, see it was a sign!) in that page.
That evening, I contemplated my liquor cabinets. I needed 200mls of white wine and when I looked up, I saw a bottle of the perfect thing, Moet Brut Rose in exactly the right size in a blushing pink shade! As I was walking home I realised that I hadn't bought flowers and when I was about to turn back I spied a big overgrown tree full of pink flowers spilling out of the neighbours fence onto the street. I snipped some and took this as another sign that the universe was in support of the pink dinner.
It was relatively quick to make and everyone adored it and yes I know, I know, it's not strictly pink is it. I perhaps should not have used the porcini fettucine as that has a decidedly brown shade to it and a regular pasta (or indeed a beetroot pasta) would have been more fitting but I had not the inclination to make some nor did I see any to purchase. I did explore some recipes for beetroot pasta but many had said that the colours drains from the vivid pink to a pale pink which just would have been rather disappointing. I do prefer my smoked salmon uncooked but it wasn't too bad at all and it was eaten happily by all with some taking seconds.
As for The Silver Spoon Pasta, this was a cookbook that many of these girlfriends wanted. The Silver Spoon is seen by many as the definitive cookbook for Italian just as Je Sais Cuisiner or I Know How To Cook is to French. Originally published in 1950 by the Architecturel magazine Domus, the recipes are easily achievable as the ingredients are easily sourced (with perhaps the exception of a white Bianco D'Alba truffle). The photographs are lovely but simple in styling, often styled in a bowl or pot on a textured surface.
Maltagliati with Peppers
The book of 350 recipes is split into two sections: dried pasta versus fresh pasta with the dried pasta further split into long pasta such as linguine, spaghetti and less common ones like Buccatini and Bavette among others and short dried pasta like Fusilli, Rigatoni and less common ones like Ruote and Sedani. The fresh pastas range from Cut pastas like Bigoli, fettucine and my favourite papardelle (for which I now have 9 new recipes!) as well as pastas like Maltagliati which means "badly cut" in Italian. The other fresh pastas are filled pastas including Agnolotti, Pansotti, the wonton-like Casonsei and Tortellini. You get the picture though, we're talking every shape of pasta you could dream up. The fresh pasta section comes with 3 recipes for fresh pasta dough (plain, green and red, how Italian flag!).
Most of the recipes for the sauces are made up of 6-7 ingredients or less including things like olive oil, butter and salt and pepper so they're very achievable. Preparation times and cooking times are listed for each recipe so it is easy to figure out which ones are good for fast cooking after work particularly if you buy the fresh pasta (although there are instructions for making your own pasta too, should the urge strike). They explain the differences in wheat flour used for dried versus fresh pasta (fresh or homemade pasta uses soft wheat flour) and they explain why the addition of egg improves the consistency and how each should be cooked - fresh pasta absorbs more water and requires less time to cook and can be stored for up to 15 days. Also importantly they teach you which sauces match with which pastas.
I'm seeing this Trofie pasta for Halloween..
Achievability: 4 out of 5
Usability: 4 out of 5 Recipes are sectioned off by pasta type
Degree of difficulty: Easy, particularly if you buy the pasta but homemade isn't as hard as it may seem
Food porn score: 3 out of 5
Post it note tabbed recipes: 15
Gift book: Pasta lovers will adore this but it is also good for people who want quick meals as well as some slow cooking.
So tell me Dear Reader, which pasta shape is your favourite? I heart papardelle and spaghetti, what are yours?
And if you need any more Pink inspiration, check out these other past NQN recipes!
The Silver Spoon Pasta is published by Phaidon Books and retails for $59.95.
Pink Pasta for BCA Month
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
100g/3.5 ozs chopped, tinned tomatoes
100g/3.5 ozs smoked salmon, cut into strips
200ml/7 fl oz white wine or rose champagne
2-3 tablespoons double cream
1 teaspoon chopped thyme (I omitted this)
275g/10 ozs fresh taglierini or other pasta
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
salt and pepper
Step 1 - Melt the butter with the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salmon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Drizzle with the wine or champagne and cook until the alcohol has evaporated.
Step 2 - Stir in the cream and thyme, season with salt and pepper and heat through gently. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water for 2-3 minutes until al dente. Drain, tip into the pan with the sauce and toss for a few minutes. Sprinkle with the chives and serve immediately.
Adapted from The Silver Spoon Pasta coobook.