Be it a simple plate of aglio olio or an indulgent carbonara, pasta is an Italian staple that never fails to satisfy our tummies. In this article, master chefs from Singapore’s all-time favourite Italian restaurants share their pasta recipes and tips with us. Get ready to pull out your pans and cook up a storm!
1. Pasta alla Nocerina by Chef Marco De Cecco from Capri Trattoria & Pizzeria
If you’re a fan of truffles, this recipe for Pasta alla Nocerina will be right up your alley. Tossed with handmade fresh sausages and perfumed with the addition of truffles, this pasta is finished with a touch of cream to dial up the indulgence.
Recipe for Pasta alla Nocerina / Pasta with Sausages and Truffles Cream Sauce
- Fresh sausages
- Truffle Paste
- Salt & Pepper
- Put water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
- Put the saucepan over medium heat, add butter, rosemary and onion. Cook for 3 minutes before adding the sausages. Mix and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
- Add some white wine and mix until evaporated. Then, add salt, pepper, cooking cream, truffle paste and mix them together. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes.
- Place pasta in boiling water to cook as per instructions. Be careful not to overcook it; keep it al dente. After the pasta is done, drain and pour it into the pan with the sauce. For the finishing touch, add some Parmesan cheese and mix well. Serve warm and garnish with additional rosemary.
- To add the sausages to the pan, break them into flakes of mincemeat before frying them.
- Allow the sausages to brown before adding the white wine.
- If the cream dries up too much, you may add a bit of milk.
2. Squid Ink Pasta by Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare
Messy but absolutely delectable, squid ink is used to colour and flavour foods, giving pasta dishes a sexy black hue. Extracted from the ink sacs of ocean squids, the ink imparts dishes with a rich and briny flavour reminiscent of the ocean.
Recipe for Squid Ink Pasta for two
- 150g squid ink pasta
- 50g cherry tomatoes
- 6g chilli padi
- 8g mirepoix (a combination of diced vegetables sauteed in butter, then used as an aromatic flavouring base for sauces, soups, and stews)
- 8g nduja (spicy pork sausage)
- 60g white wine
- 20g cuttlefish
- 200g mussels
- 120g fish stock
- 120g red prawn bisque
- 30g extra virgin olive oil
- 20g pistachio sauce
- 5g toasted pistachios
- Sweat vegetables (mirepoix) in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the nduja and mussels before deglazing the pan with white wine.
- Remove mussels once they open and add in the liquids.
- Toss in cooked pasta and sauté until a desired sauce consistency.
- Return the mussels to the pan and drizzle in the olive oil.
- Now brush your plate with pistachio sauce and plate your pasta. Garnish it with freshly toasted chopped pistachios.
- To make the mirepoix, dice up some onions, carrots and celery uniformly in a ratio of 2:1:1.
- To make the pistachio sauce, you may refer to this recipe from SAVEUR. However, if that is too much work, then feel free to skip it.
3. Uncle’s Ettore Pesto by Chef Simone Vespasiani from Trattoria Nonna Lina
Originating in Genoa, Italy, pesto sauce is commonly used to accompany pasta dishes. The traditional Italian pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, and quality olive oil. To get the best results, it should be made using a marble mortar and wood pestle as the marble mortar can be chilled to prevent the oxidation of the basil. The grinding also helps to tear the leaves instead of cutting them up. This helps to perfectly extract the essential oils in the basil, giving you a tasty, aromatic pesto in a beautiful green colour.
If you’re a fan of Uncle’s Ettore Pesto pasta from Trattoria Nonna Lina, you might want to sit up for this. Chef Simone dishes out a few tips for you to get that perfect pesto, together with a recipe for you to try at home!
For an original Uncle’s Ettore pesto, the secret is in using the right ingredients and tools, therefore you need:
- Organic basil leaves (use small leaves for better taste)
- Young, organic garlic
- 30-month old Parmigiano Reggiano
- Matured pecorino cheese
- Pine nuts
- Quality extra virgin olive oil
Recipe for Pesto Sauce
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon of pine nuts
- 2 bunches (about 1 and 1/2 cup of leaves) of fresh basil
- a pinch of rock salt
- 2 tablespoon of parmesan cheese, grated.
- 1 tablespoon of pecorino cheese, grated.
- 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil DOP
- Remove the stems from the basil leaves and wash the leaves with cold water. Place them carefully on a canvas to dry. Ensure that they are well-dried before preparing the pesto.
- Put a clove of garlic in the mortar, ensuring that you remove any inner green bits which are the less digestive parts of the garlic. Add 1/3 of the pine nuts and using an up-down motion with the pestle, crush the mixture until it reaches a creamy consistency. Scoop out the garlic cream from the mortar and put it aside. You will use it later.
- Put the remaining pine nuts in the mortar, add 2/3 of the basil leaves and a few grains of rock salt. Rock salt is needed as it helps to break the basil leaves during the grinding process. It also prevents oxidation. However, take care not to add too much salt!
- Begin by using a rotating movement to smash the basil leaves against the interior walls of the mortar. The basil leaves should be torn up instead of pounded. This helps to release the essential oils contained in the internal veins of the leaves. Continue pounding until a homogenous cream is obtained. Add the remaining leaves, a little more rock salt grains, and continue smashing.
- After the last batch of basil leaves are mixed in, add the garlic cream that was previously left aside, a little at a time, tasting in between additions.
- Add the cheeses, mix, and taste. Add salt if necessary.
- Finally, add the oil, stirring the mixture gently to prevent the oil from creating an emulsion.
- To store the pesto, ensure that your pesto is always kept under a light layer of oil to prevent oxidation.
- To make pesto pasta, simply cook your preferred pasta as per the recipe directions and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the pesto before slowly streaming in some pasta water and mixing through to emulsify your sauce. Serve.
- Use a sweet garlic and always remove the green tip inside.
- Use a seasoned Parmesan cheese. Besides giving the dish a more intense flavour, it helps to prevent the pesto from sticking to the bottom of the plate when the pasta is seasoned.
- Don’t forget to taste every step of the way and adjust accordingly as different batches of garlic and basil do not taste the same. If the pesto is too salty, reduce the amount of parmesan cheese and/or add less salt to the pasta water.
- Make the pesto as quickly as possible to prevent it from oxidizing.
- For a crunch in your pesto, add more pecorino and some walnuts.
No pestle and mortar? You can use a food processor instead! Here are some tips from Chef Simone on using it.
- Chill your food processor bowl and blades in the fridge prior to use.
- Use the food processor intermittently to prevent the blades from creating too much heat.
- The ingredients used are the same, but it is recommended to double their amounts when using a food processor.