The Tri-City Herald's Food & Wine section Aug. 3 will feature Menu Planner, a weekly feature giving seven days of dinner menus, shopping hints and tips on using leftovers from one meal in a new way later in the week. The section also includes more recipes plus buying, cooking and health tips on a variety of food-related subjects.
Fusilli with Mortadella and Pistachio
The combination of mortadella - Bologna's famous cooked pork sausage - and pistachios provides a nice flavor and textural contrast in this dish. I prefer skinless pistachios, but I realize the home cook would not take kindly to blanching and peeling the small nuts as we do at the restaurant. So I will settle for shelled pistachios, which will also give you a delicious result.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 paper thin slices mortadella
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound dried fusilli, (see Variations)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
1/4 cup shelled chopped pistachios
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a covered pasta pot, over high heat, bring water to a boil. Line a large platter, including the rim, with mortadella. Set aside. Add salt and fusilli to the boiling water and cook, uncovered, over high heat until pasta is al dente. Scoop out about 1 cup (250 mL) of the pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, butter, half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the fusilli. Using a wooden spoon, toss to coat evenly, adding more pasta water, if necessary. Add pistachios and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss well.
Transfer to the mortadella-lined platter and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve immediately.
Mortadella comes with a plastic casing, which is often left on for slicing. Be sure to remove the casing before layering on the platter. I like to use unsalted butter in my recipes because it contributes fresh flavor without adding extra salt. I usually season my sauces in the initial stages of cooking so the flavors have time to bloom. I always taste the final product and, if necessary, add more salt and pepper just before serving.
Fusilli is a corkscrew-shaped pasta that catches sauce and holds it well. Substitute penne or rotini for fusilli. Substitute Mortadella with pistachios for plain mortadella.
If mortadella looks like American bologna, there are good reasons: It comes from Bologna, Italy, hence the slang name "baloney." The North American version is very different from the air-dried Italian original. American style garlic-flavored mortadella is closer to baloney with the addition of cubes of pork fat and black peppercorns. There are also excellent German mortadellas that also contain pistachios.
From: 250 True Italian Pasta Dishes by John Coletta with Nancy Ross Ryan Robert Rose.