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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Musical Pasta

Italians have a natural gift of taking the most mundane tasks of life and creating an almost convivial atmosphere and I believe this is at the heart and soul of La Dolci Vita. Take for instance my Neapolitan Dad's musical pasta. He would always grab one tube of pasta out of the box before dumping the rest into the water. Then he would hold it to his lips just so....... and blow. He could toot out an entire contata while the pasta was boiling away.  I can still see him walking around the house tooting out The Drinking Song from Verdi's La Traviata and me trailing behind him belting out, "Godiamo, la tazza la tazza!" as we waited for the rest of the pasta to cook. I still love to listen to music, sing, and even dance while I cook to this day. Thank you Daddy for giving me the gift of living La Dolci Vita!
Here is one of my favorite childhood pasta dishes which we ate every Sunday for lunch using the left over sauce from Saturday.
6 cups of Marinara or Ragu Sauce (make a big pot the day ahead and save half )
8 ounces fresh Mozzarella
Basil leaves *Italian housewife trick: Don't wash them off but rub with a dry towel, this keeps them nice and green.
1 pound Pasta: ziti, rigatoni, penne...Something with holes to hold the sauce and whistle a tune!
3/4 cup Grated Cheese: Pecorino OR Parmesan Or a combo of the two
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs: plain
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Equipment: 1 large lasagna or casserole dish. If I am making this for a crowd I buy the big aluminum pans and throw them away when finished.
Set oven to 500.
Boil the pasta until very al dente (slightly undercooked) and drain. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to coat.
Spread some olive oil onto the bottom of the casserole dish, enough to coat the bottom, and dust with the bread crumbs.
Now place 1/3 of the pasta in and then a dusting of 1/3 of the Parmesan, and then 1/3  of mozzarella torn into small chunks, finish off this layer with some basil leaves.
Now repeat the process.
For the third and final layer only add the pasta and cheeses and the finish off with a dusting of bread crumbs and drizzles of olive oil all over.
You only bake this for 10-12 minutes because it is such a high heat. Remove and allow to cool off a bit, atleast 10 minutes before cutting into it.
OR you can cover and place in your fridge for over night and cook just before serving since it is so quick to cook, only 10-12 minutes. Bring back to room temp before baking or else the middle may still be cool.
Buon Appetito!

~Mia famiglia 1970's: that's me with the plaid shirt with my Daddy behind me~

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