A Mediterranean diet of life is never without carbs or pasta; the simpler, the better
Of course I couldn’t agree more. I was raised in Napoli, and the Mediterranean diet was born in Cilento, where I go every year. The Mediterranean diet, the healthiest diet of all, is truly a way of life, something we are born with and it’s part of our culture.
How could I not take part in this year’s World Pasta Day virtual ‘celebrations’? Especially with a blog named after pasta!
To celebrate the day (which falls on 25 October this year), I was delighted to be asked to join a bunch of fellow bloggers, home cooks and influencers for a cook along with chef Francesco Mazzei – we would make a simple yet modern pasta dish which Francesco created for the occasion.
Pasta – queen of the Mediterranean diet – has been the symbol of the ‘way back to the essentials’ both during and after lockdown. Some super markets even completely run out of it during the stockpiling frenzy of March and April.
Not that I would ever run out, I have plenty of pasta in my cupboard and I love to make my own, thanks also to the masterclasses I have attended with chefs such as Francesco.
The cook along
For the cook along for World Pasta Day, we received a box containing all the necessary to make the dish, from white wine from Calabria (Francesco’s home region) to a generous block of Grana Padano, as well as a pack of Spaghettini di Martino and the fresh ingredients which included some wonderful seasonal porcini mushrooms.
Slightly apprehensive, I prepped my kitchen and waited for Francesco to initiate his live demo. He came online and started chopping and dicing. He’s so fast, of course!
I managed to keep up with the demo and created what was a delicious, warming pasta dish with some exceptional flavours. I was surprised at how gently subtle the saffron was; the anchovies’ fishy aroma had disappeared within the strong earthy mushroom ragout yet adding a rich umami background. The chili gave a touch of heat and the cooking method (something completely new for me) gave the pasta a delicate creaminess, helped by the grated Grana Padano.
I loved learning something new; this dish was definitely something I would have never possibly put together myself and yet I can easily see myself replicating, perhaps when I am back in Italy and want to surprise the family!
To make it yourself, see the recipe below.
200g capellini or spaghettini
600ml vegetable stock
1gr saffron threads
60g Grana Padano
400g porcini / cep mushrooms cut in brunoise.
50ml extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
30g tinned salted anchovies
15g red chilli
3 sprigs of thyme
50ml white wine
Salt / pepper to taste
In a pan, heat the olive oil with the crushed garlic and thyme, add the chopped anchovies and mushrooms. Stir fry on a high heat for 5 minutes. Pour in the wine, let it cook and evaporate. Remove the garlic and the thyme. Season salt and pepper. Set the mushrooms aside.
Chop the chilli and the chives and set them aside.
Meanwhile, pour vegetables stock into a large, wide rimmed frying pan, add the saffron. Bring to the boil and cook the pasta until the stock is completely absorbed. Finish with grated Grana Padano. Season with salt and pepper and mix with about half of the mushroom ragout. Serve topped with rest of the mushrooms and chopped chilli and chives as well as an extra sprinkling of Grana Padano.
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Francesco Mazzei and the Italian Trade Agency; opinions are my own.