La pasta nos­tra

There are many clas­sic pasta sauces, which chef Samin Nos­rat breaks down into five fam­i­lies of in­gre­di­ents in this il­lus­tra­tion: meat, cheese, veg, to­ma­toes and seafood. The four fol­low­ing recipes we’ve picked take as long to make as your pasta needs to b

The Guardian - Cook - - Instant Classics -

13 Basil pesto

Don’t skimp on the nuts and cheese here. To use as a pasta sauce, spoon the pesto into a large bowl and add just-cooked, drained pasta. The pie chart in­gre­di­ents to the right are just a start­ing point – feel free to play around with sub­sti­tu­tions.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nos­rat, (Canon­gate)

Makes about 400g

175ml ex­tra vir­gin olive oil About 2 big bunches fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1-2 gar­lic cloves, finely grated or pounded with a pinch of salt

65g pine nuts, lightly toasted and pounded

100g parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serv­ing


1 The key to blend­ing basil in a ma­chine is to avoid over­do­ing it, be­cause the heat the mo­tor gen­er­ates, along with the ox­i­da­tion that can oc­cur from over­chop­ping it, will cause the basil to turn brown. So, give it a head­start and chop it roughly first. Also, pour half the olive oil into the bot­tom of the blender or pro­ces­sor bowl first, to en­cour­age the basil to break down into a liq­uid as quickly as pos­si­ble. Then pulse, stop­ping to push down the leaves with a rub­ber spat­ula about twice a minute, un­til the basil oil be­comes a fra­grant, emer­ald-green whirlpool.

2 To pre­vent overblend­ing the basil, fin­ish the pesto in a bowl. Pour the basil oil out into a medium bowl, and add some of the gar­lic, pine nuts and parmesan. Stir to com­bine, then taste. Does it need more gar­lic? More salt? More cheese? Is it too thick? If so, add a little more oil, or plan to add some pasta wa­ter. Tinker and taste again, keep­ing in mind that, as the pesto sits for a little while, the flavours will come to­gether, the gar­lic will be­come more pro­nounced, and the salt will dis­solve.

3 Let it sit for a few min­utes, then taste and ad­just again. Add enough olive oil to cover the sauce to stop ox­i­da­tion.

4 Re­frig­er­ate, cov­ered, for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

14 Ca­cio e pepe

A clas­sic Ro­man dish. Tra­di­tion­ally pecorino is used, but we pre­fer high­qual­ity, aged parmesan for depth. Trullo by Tim Si­a­datan (Square Peg)

Serves 4

400g any pasta (tra­di­tion­ally pici) 160g un­salted but­ter Salt and 4 tbsp black pep­per 1 tsp lemon juice

100g parmesan, finely grated

1 In a large saucepan, bring some salty wa­ter up to the boil. Cook the pasta. When cooked, re­move from the wa­ter, sav­ing some of the cook­ing wa­ter.

2 Add the but­ter, black pep­per, lemon juice and a splash of the pasta cook­ing wa­ter to a saucepan on a medium heat and then turn down to a low heat un­til they emul­sify.

3 Add the pasta to the sauce. Add the parmesan – but do not stir. Leave the parmesan to sit and melt from the resid­ual heat of the pan –this pre­vents it from be­com­ing chewy little cheesy balls. Once the parmesan has melted, stir the pasta and sauce. Sea­son with salt and serve im­me­di­ately.

15 Pasta with but­ter, sage and parmesan

Fresh, fra­grant sage is my choice of herb here, but try pars­ley, thyme, chervil or other green herbs.

How to Cook Ev­ery­thing Veg­e­tar­ian: Com­pletely Re­vised 10th An­niver­sary Edi­tion by Mark Bittman, out now

Serves 4

450g cut pasta, such as ziti

Salt and freshly ground black pep­per 2 tbsp but­ter

30 fresh sage leaves

1 cup or more freshly grated parmesan

1 Bring a large pot of wa­ter to a boil, salt well, and cook the pasta un­til it is ten­der but not quite done.

2 Mean­while, put the but­ter in a fry­ing pan or saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta; turn the heat to medium and add the sage. Cook un­til the but­ter turns nut-brown and the sage shriv­els, then re­duce the heat to a min­i­mum.

3 When the pasta is just about done, scoop out a cup of the cook­ing wa­ter. Drain the pasta. Im­me­di­ately add the pasta to the but­ter-sage mix­ture and raise the heat to medium. Add ¾ of the cup of pasta wa­ter and stir; the mix­ture will be loose and a little soupy. Cook for about 30 sec­onds, or un­til some of the wa­ter is ab­sorbed and the pasta is per­fectly done.

4 Stir in the cheese; the sauce will be­come creamy. Thin it with a little more wa­ter if nec­es­sary. Sea­son lib­er­ally with pep­per and salt to taste, and serve im­me­di­ately, pass­ing more cheese at the ta­ble if you like.

16 Spaghetti car­bonara

Cream is not nec­es­sary here, egg yolks are bet­ter than whole eggs, and a com­bi­na­tion of parmesan and pecorino gives the dish a lovely bal­ance. Be care­ful not to cook the yolks, and add the pasta cook­ing wa­ter gently – you want a yel­low and glossy sauce, not some­thing thin and watery.

Rus­sell Nor­man

Serves 4

400g dried spaghetti

2 tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil 150g pancetta, cut into thick, short match­sticks

Black pep­per

4 large egg yolks, beaten 100g parmesan, grated 20g pecorino, grated

1 Bring a large pan of salted wa­ter to the boil and cook the spaghetti ac­cord­ing to the packet’s in­struc­tions.

2 Mean­while, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based fry­ing pan and saute the pancetta un­til it is start­ing to crisp and is turn­ing golden brown.

3 Just be­fore the spaghetti is done, scoop out a cup­ful of the cook­ing wa­ter and set aside. Drain the pasta and trans­fer to the pan of pancetta. While still on a low heat, coat ev­ery strand of spaghetti with the oil and make sure the pancetta is well in­cor­po­rated. Add a few good twists of black pep­per, too.

4 Re­move the pan from the heat. Add the egg yolks and parmesan, then stir well with a splash or two of cook­ing wa­ter. Con­tinue un­til the glossy sauce coats all the pasta strands.

5 Di­vide equally on to four warmed plates. Add the grated pecorino and a few more twists of black pep­per.

Cook’s tip The pesto in­gre­di­ents in this pie chart can be sub­sti­tuted as you see fit

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