Antonio Carluccio’s Salsa di Funghi (Mushroom Sauce)

Serves: 4

How good is Northern Italian food?

And how good is simplicity?

Which when combined, begs the question, just how good was Antonio Carluccio?

I absolutely love mushrooms and cooked down slowly, with just a bit of olive oil and rosemary; the addition of the porcini stock, butter and then Parmesan. My word.

Toast me something and pile those mushrooms on that! Polenta equally so!

Again, it’s simple, though cook those mushrooms as slowly as possible and live the Northern Italian life.

(We did the white sauce… which is not what you might expect.)

Ingredients

25gm dried porcini mushrooms
150ml water
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
400gm fresh mushrooms (mix it up!)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan to serve

For white sauce

15 butter

For red sauce

2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp tomato pulp (passata)
1 tbsp tomato paste

  1. Soak the dried porcini in tepid water for 30 minutes and squeeze dry, reserving the soaking liquor.
  2. Heat the oil and fry the rosemary and garlic for 20 seconds. If you are making the red sauce, add the extra virgin olive oil at this point. Add the fresh mushrooms and soaked dried mushrooms and continue to slowly cook for no less than 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. (I cooked for 45 minutes and wow!)
  3. Cook your pasta, reserving a small amount of pasta water for the sauce.
  4. For the white sauce, stir in the soaking liquor and the butter and cook for another 15 minutes. Add some of the pasta water and check the seasoning.
  5. Serve with the pasta and a good amount of Parmesan.

Method

Antonio Carluccio’s Insalata all’Abruzzese (Vegetable and Tuna Salad)

Serves: 4

This salad is a triumph of flavours: the combination of cooked and raw vegetables, the tuna, the whole thing.

(Yes, it is a summer salad and we had it in the tail of winter, though the sun was out and we had some good Italian wines to try.)

With a bit of toasted bread, this is a meal on its own.

Though next time I serve this, I hope it is part of a long Italian feast welcoming our family and friends back into our home.

That’s when the really good Italian whites and reds are coming out.

Bookmark this one. It is beautiful. And lockdown will end one way or the other!

Ingredients

300gm young zucchinis (around 4 small)
200gm green beans, trimmed (about a big handful)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
200gm tomatoes (around 2 tomatoes)
1 red pepper
1 red onion
150gm good canned tuna in oil, drained
8 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
8 basil leaves, torn
1 tsp dried oregano
1 – 3 red chillies, chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Method

  1. Quarter the zucchinis lengthways, then cut into chunks. Cook the beans until al dente, drain and cool. Repeat with the zucchinis.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and remove the seeds. Halve, core and deseed the pepper, then cut into long, thin strips. Finely slice the red onion.
  3. Put the zucchinis, beans, tomatoes, red pepper and onion into a bowl. Break the tuna into little chunks and add to the salad with the anchovies, herbs and as much fresh chilli as you can take! Toss everything together, adding the olive oil, followed by the wine vinegar. Season and serve at room temperature.

Antonio Carluccio’s Gnocchetti Sardi Con Broccoli (Sardinian Gnocchi with Broccoli)

Serves: 4

The first post I did for robbydogcooks.com was an Antonio Carluccio dish.

His pastas are always unique, always simple and always 1-hat. We can never fault them, especially the fact that you can start cooking at midday and serve lunch at one.

This pasta is wonderful.

And absurdly simple to make.

With a green salad and a glass of cold vino, it really doesn’t get better.

I have slightly adapted this recipe.

Ingredients

500gm broccoli florets
60gm smoked, streaky bacon, finely chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
200ml heated milk
400gm Sardinian gnocchetti (I used Casarecce which seemed close)
A little hot water from cooking the pasta (this is important)
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the broccoli, drain and process in a food processor until finely chopped. Set aside.
  2. In a large pan, start to fry the bacon in the olive oil. Once it begins to brown, add the slices of garlic, which should not be allowed to colour. Add the broccoli and the milk and cook for 10 – 15 minutes over a medium heat, stirring every now and then. At the end of this time, the broccoli should be reduced to a creamy texture.
  3. Cook the gnocchetti until al denote, drain (reserving some of the water), then our the pasta into the pan with the broccoli mixture, adding the Parmesan, salt and pepper. Add a spoonful or two of cooking water so the mixture is creamy rather than stiff. Stir well over a moderate flame for a few minutes or so and serve.

Antonio Carluccio’s Farfalle con Grancevola e Gamberetti (Butterfly Pasta with Spider Crab and Small Prawns)

Serves 4

This is a left of centre dish and one I was slightly suspicious about; where would the flavour come from? Would it be too subtle?

The recipe is from Antonio Carluccio’s beautiful and modestly named book, ‘Pasta’. It is a wonderful book if only that all of the recipes are simple, unique, rustic and incredibly good.

I substituted Spider Crab for Blue Swimmer Crab (given that Spider Crabs are found fairly much only in the northern hemisphere) and increased slightly the quantity of both the crab and prawn.

Carluccio says to garnish with dill or parsley though the dill is the way to go; it keeps the aniseed flavour lingering longer, really pulling the whole dish together. Seriously, if you had this pasta in a top restaurant, you would not be surprised. Its simplicity and flavour is that good.

Ingredients

350gm dried medium farfalle pasta
3 tbsp finely chopped dill (or fresh flat-leaf parsley)

Sauce

250gm ready prepared (spider) crab meat
150gm small raw prawns (I used 500gm medium prawns)
1 aubergine (eggplant), peeled and cut into slices
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
150gm leeks, finely chopped (I used one leek)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
50ml White wine

Method

  1. Boil the prawns for about 2 – 3 minutes, drain and peel.
  2. Cook the aubergine in slightly salted water until soft; about five minutes. Mash.
  3. Heat the pol in a large saucepan and fry the garlic and leeks until soft; do not let them brown. Add the fennel seeds and the mashed aubergine and fry for a few minutes before adding the wine and mixing well. Cook gently for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the crab and the prawns, stir and heat through and taste for salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente.
  6. Drain well and mix with the sauce. Serve sprinkled with dill (or parsley).

Spaghetti di Farro con Luganega (Spelt Spaghetti with Sausage Sauce)

Serves: 4

This is an Antonio Carluccio dish and it is a cracker; Nat and I picked up the book in the Prahan Markets when we went down to Melbourne for a weekend. Carluccio is a bit of a hero to me and a real father of Italian food.

This dish is rich, warm and rustic and really pretty straightforward to make. The sauce can be pre-made and even frozen for emergency dinners.

Ingredients

350g dried spelt spaghetti pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
60g pecorino cheese, freshly grated

Sauce

30g dried porcini, rehydrated
3 tbsp olive oil
50g unsalted butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ fresh hot red chilli, finely chopped
250g Italian sausage, meat removed from the skin and crumbled
100ml white wine
2 tbsp tomato paste, diluted in 2 tbsp water
1 tbsp fresh rosemary needles

Instructions

  1. Soak the dried porcini for the sauce in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain, reserving the soaking water and chop.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan with the butter and fry the onion and chilli briefly.
  3. Add the crumbled sausage meat and porcini and fry and stir for another 8 – 10 minutes on a low heat.
  4. Add the wine and then cook for a further 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated.
  5. Add the tomato and rosemary and cook for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and if more moisture is needed, add some of the porcini soaking water.
  7. Meanwhile, cook the paste until al dente. Drain week.
  8. Mix with the sauce, serve and sprinkle with the cheese.