Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nonno's Pasta e Patate

This is another classic dish you just should not live without during the winter months.  It translates to a classic Italian potato soup and is quite delicous.  You don't have to have very much fat in the pan to get good flavor.  My grandfather's favorite dish every friday night.  He was from Taranto (Puglia), and retired from the Ferrovie (train conductor for the railway).  He was a tall, thin, man considering his starchy diet. My grandmother made it for him quite often. 
  This dish was a family staple especially when Nonno would visit on Friday nights.  My mother always used white potatoes due to the fact that they break down very easily when cooked and could feed more than just a few people.
Today, this version utilizes small red potatoes.  I prefer to use red potatoes for  many reasons.  They tend to be less starchy, slightly sweeter when cooked and hold their shape so much better.  In the end, your plate is full and you actually eat less. Although, I must admit, I had a second helping. 
 This is very rustic.  Feel free to use white potatoes if you like.  It will not be pretty but it will still be delicious.
Ingredients:  Serves 4/ 6 oz bowls
10-12 small/med red potatoes
One large pasta pot to hold your soup
1/2 cup spanish onion diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon diced garlic/ or leave the clove whole and remove it before serving
4 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoons of pepper
one handful of parsely
One bay leaf (optional), remove before serving
1 cup of white wine
2 teaspoon of tomato paste

Into a bowl, peel your potatoes.  Set your potatoes into a bowl of cold water with one teaspoon of salt  and let rest for about 10 minutes. (The salt will help expell the additonal dirt away from the potato while it's under water).  Rinse and drain your potatoes and pat dry.  Set aside.

You will see some dirty water after draining your potatoes.

Into a pan large enough to accomodate your soup, heat your olive oil.
Add your onion and garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add your tomato paste and give it a stir until fragrant.  Add potatoes and mix until heated.  Add your salt, pepper and white wine.  Turn the heat up and let reduce.  Add your water.   Add approximately enough water to cover your potatoes by at least 2 inches.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and set your lid ajar. Let cook for 45 minutes. 
Break your dried pasta (I used spaghetti) into several 3 inch pieces.  There is no science to it.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  It just has to be good.  You will only need about 4-6 ounces of pasta for this.  If you are like me, there is always a package with some left in the box to use.  This is the perfect excuse.

A special note about using dried pasta:    Please try to  use a "Made in Italy" product.  Most products with Italian names and made in the States are filled with plenty of starch. (If you must, watch your cooking time.  Many domestic products cook faster).   You can tell this by the way the water turns a solid white when you place the pasta into the water to cook.  A good quality pasta does not do this.  You will notice the water quickly change in color minimally when the dry pasta hits the boiling water. This just takes practice.
Cook your pasta for approximately 12 minutes right in your soup.  Turn up the heat just alittle and mix. Correct for salt.  Turn the heat off and let rest just a few minutes before serving.  Buon Appetito!

I sprinkled a little red pepper on top for color and taste~Buon Appetito!

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