I love the artisans in Italy. They make things of such high quality: products that give great pleasure and satisfaction to those who appreciate them. Over the years, I’ve experienced this with apparel, ceramics, jewelry, art, leather goods, and of course, with food and wine. Such was the case late in the week when I was shopping at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, where I was introduced to the special pastas of Mauro Musso.
I decided to try one of his small production, hand crafted pastas — Casarecce. As with all of his pasta, this was made with ancient grains, in this case Farro and Rye flours. He is also very specific (and accurate) in his timings for cooking pasta; I was warned to adhere closely to his guidelines.
It was my turn to cook dinner, and I decided to make a vegetable pasta dish, with flavors that would complement the rustic grains. I also had in mind using whatever was on hand, especially if I could finish items that needed cooking or finishing. Mentally, I was thinking of the hills in Liguria, and mushrooms needed to be a big part of the base. What became the sauce included:
- onions, leek, and celery, sautéed
- carrot batons, sautéed and braised
- brown beech and shitake mushrooms, and partially roasted eggplant cubes, also sautéed
- handful of dried Porcini mushrooms, soaked in warm water and drained
- 2 Tbs. of double concentrated paste, made from Santorini cherry tomatoes
- some white wine
- fresh peas at the end
These were cooked together slowly for some time. When the pasta was prepared as directed, I added it to the sauce, along with at least 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and let that simmer for a bit, until the water was absorbed. In the meantime I made a salad, and then served the meal, accompanied by a glass of Manoir Tête de la Rouge Bagatelle, from Saumur in the Loire Valley of France. It’s all Cabernet Franc, and fit well with the dish. It was the perfect supper, and an incredibly good (and healthy) pasta.