Thursday 14 December 2017

Antonio Caluccio perfects pasta

Acciughe: Curled noodles with Romanesco and Anchovy sauce
Acciughe: Curled noodles with Romanesco and Anchovy sauce
Melanzane: Large spaghetti with Meat and Aubergine balls
Master of Italian cookery - Antonio Carluccio
Antonio Carluccio

These rustic recipes from the master of Italian food will have you reaching for the carbs all over again.


Curled Noodles with Romanesco and Anchovy Sauce

Mafalde are a band noodle, about 3cm wide, with one or both sides ruffled in order to catch sauces. Romanesco is of the cauliflower family, but is totally green, looking like a cross between cauliflower and broccoli, and tasting vaguely like cauliflower. The anchovies are what the Romans used for almost everything, particularly a garum sauce, based on fermented fish, probably anchovies.



350g dried mafalde pasta (or pappardelle or large tagliatelle)

Salt and pepper, to taste

60g pecorino cheese, freshly grated


800g romanesco, cut into small florets

6 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 tsp chopped fresh, hot, red chilli

10 anchovy fillets in oil

Finely grated rind of 1 lemon


Cook the romanesco first in boiling salted water, for about 6-8 minutes. Drain.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 12 minutes or until al dente. Drain, saving some of the cooking water.

In a large saucepan, fry the garlic and chilli in the oil, and when softened and still pale, add the anchovies and lemon rind and a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Add the romanesco, squashing some of the bigger florets. The texture of the sauce should be semi-liquid, so you may have to add more water. Season to taste. Mix the pasta well into the sauce, and serve hot, sprinkled with the grated cheese.


Large Spaghetti with Meat and Aubergine Balls

It is well known that pasta is the best food for endurance athletes, especially before a physically-engaging event such as a marathon. This is because pasta is very slowly digested, which allows energy to be released over some considerable time. I created this recipe especially for my rugby-playing friends.



600g good-quality dried spaghettoni

30g parmesan, freshly grated

Salt and pepper, to taste


50ml olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and very finely chopped

100ml dry white wine

2 tbsp tomato paste

680g tomato passata

10 fresh basil leaves


2 whole aubergines

Olive oil for cooking and shallow-frying

300g lean minced beef

1 garlic clove, peeled and squashed to a paste

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

50g parmesan, freshly grated

1 medium egg, beaten

100g fresh breadcrumbs


Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Put the aubergines for the meatballs in an oven-proof dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 30 minutes. Cut the aubergines in half, and scoop the pulp out of the skins. Mash the pulp and keep to one side. Discard the skins.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, and fry the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. When soft add the wine, the tomato paste, tomato passata and the basil. Stir well and leave to cook gently for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, continue with the meatballs by mixing together the beef mince, the soft aubergine pulp, garlic paste, nutmeg, parmesan, beaten egg, breadcrumbs and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well and shape with your hands into the shape of rugby balls and the size of apricots. Shallow-fry in olive oil to brown on all sides. Add the balls to the tomato sauce and keep warm.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water for 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain well.

Pour the pasta into a large deep serving dish, and mix well with half of the sauce. Divide between individual dishes, put the rest of the sauce on the top and sprinkle with the parmesan.


Large Pasta Hats with Sicilian Vegetable Stew

Cappelli, a traditional Puglian pasta that resembles little hats, is made from durum wheat semolina in Puglia. I have had the audacity to combine them with a typical Sicilian speciality, caponata, creating an Italian fusion dish, which I must confess is rather successful. It could be eaten warm or cold as a salad.



350g cappelli pasta

Salt and pepper, to taste


2 large aubergines, cut into slices first and then cubes

100ml extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

The heart of 1 head celery, plus the leaves, finely chopped

150g pitted green olives, sliced

200g tomatoes, ripe from the plant, crushed

50g salted capers, rinsed

2 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp strong red wine vinegar

10 fresh basil leaves


Start by soaking the aubergine cubes in water to make them less oil-absorbent, for up to 10 minutes. Drain them well. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the aubergine until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.

In the same oil fry the onion for a few minutes to soften, then add the celery, celery leaves, olives, tomatoes and capers, and cook until the celery is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the aubergine to the pan and stir-fry for a further 10 minutes. Add the sugar and the vinegar and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the basil and taste for salt.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 12-14 minutes or until al dente. Drain and mix with the caponata. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and serve.

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