Gennaro Contaldo shows us how to master pasta… In Italy
When you’re invited to Italy to spend the weekend learning from the UK’s father of Italian cooking, Gennaro Contaldo, you say ‘sì.’ And pronto!
And that’s exactly what I did. Gennaro was chosen by Bertolli to reveal their brand new pasta shape and develop four easy, original midweek recipes using the new pasta and Bertolli with Butter. Throughout the trip in Puglia (the heel of the boot-shaped Italy for the geographically challenged) Gennaro demonstrated just how easy and tasty these recipes are. The new conical pasta shape is perfect for stuffing with cheeses or serving with savoury sauces, like pesto, that the cone can scoop up.
Throughout the trip’s cooking demos Gennaro touted the use of Calabrian chillies. He talked about how chillies aren’t just about the heat but also the intensity of flavour. The best way to tell if the chilli is flavourful? Break it open and give it a sniff. He also made it very clear that pasta, after boiling, should be finished off in a pan with the accompanying sauce so that it can soak up the flavour. And you’ll want to save some of that starchy cooking water to pop in the pan as it helps the sauce adhere to pasta. Below he points to the lovely ‘shine’ the pasta gets when cooked with Bertolli with Butter.
We had a variety of pitstops while on the road including a trip to a farmers market in Osteria. There, Gennaro talked us through picking out the very best produce, how to spot the good mushrooms (the stems should be bouncy not dry) and how to pick out the best artichokes (the leaves should be firmly closed).
You’ll find them working out of open flats that serve as storefronts in a narrow, yet charming alley. This is where they hand make the pasta with such ease and speed it’ll make you dizzy. Check out the video of them in action, below…
The former is a clever take on cannelloni. The new Bertolli pasta shape is perfect for stuffing and the tomato sauce is simple but pairs perfectly with the creamy cheese. Get the recipe here.
If you can’t make it to Puglia, I urge you to try these recipes and get a real taste of Italy. Buon appetito!
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