We asked some of Italy's most renowned chefs to share signature recipes that celebrate all things pasta. Dive into authentic culinary inspiration from across the country to recreate the flavours of the Boot in your own home.
"Everything you see, I owe to pasta." This quote, from famed actress Sophia Loren, neatly sums up the sheer reverence of the humble dish among Italians. From lasagna to carbonara via puttanesca, Italian pasta recipes are cooked and loved around the world. But with each region boasting its own specialities, there are so many more variations out there to try.
When we asked some of the most accomplished chefs in the country what makes the perfect pasta dish, the answer was the same: the quality of the ingredients. Whether it's a perfectly sunblushed tomato, the freshest Sicilian ricotta or a meticulously foraged mushroom, these ingredients are key to making an authentic pasta recipe sing. Whether it's a simple classic like nonna used to make or a painstaking feat crafted over several hours, these recipes are key to learning how to make pasta like an Italian, capturing some of the finest flavours the country has to offer.
Amalfi lemons are known world over for their intense fragrance, large size and irresistibly juicy flesh. When paired with linguine or spaghetti, garlic, fresh anchovies and earthy parsley, you have the perfect recipe for light summer lunches. Just close your eyes and you can almost see the cascading clifftop villages and sparkling shores of the Italian coastline. With this dish, however, Chef Mimmo di Raffaele has a secret ingredient up his sleeve: colatura di alici (which literally translates to 'anchovy drippings'). The sauce is made in the tiny village of Cetera on the Amalfi Coast and adds an irresistible umami depth to the flavour profile. Even better, this surprisingly simple Italian pasta recipe can be whipped up in just ten minutes.
Tuscan food is known for its rich, meaty sauces, delicious bread and delicate tortelli pasta (a shape similar to tortellini or ravioli). Chef Daniele Sera incorporates many of the region's signature flavours in his wild boar tortelli recipe, which uses Pecorino Senese and Stacchino cheeses, red wine and a variety of herbs and fruits to enhance the flavour. While this recipe involves some 18 hours of soaking and marinating, the end result — richly flavoured, sumptuously soft meat, harmonising with creamy-soft cheese and earthy Black truffle — is well worth your toils.
You may think you know pesto, but it's not until you've tried Chef Corradi Corti's that you can call yourself a connoisseur. His recipe, which is made rustic-style in a mortar and pestle, envelopes tantalizingly around the favoured pasta in Liguria: trenette avvantaggiate. With its slightly porous texture, it is the perfect partner to pesto's consistency. Though the simplicity of pasta, potatoes, green beans and pesto might not initially seem elevated, it is substantial and comforting: perfect for a weeknight dinner on a chilly night.
In this lovingly crafted tortelli dish, Michelin-starred chef Roberto Toro made it his mission to celebrate the very best of Sicilian ingredients. The original recipe asks for PDO pecorino cheese, PGI pachino tomatoes and Mazara del Vallo red shrimp, so you may feel hard pressed to find the exact ingredients. But if you find good-quality homegrown produce wherever you are, a faithful enough recreation is possible. While the pasta itself is filled with a pesto-style filling of basil, pine nuts and parmesan, it's the shrimp bisque and tomato sauce that really makes the dish sing.
Just like her contemporary Sophia Loren, globetrotting beauty Elizabeth Taylor had an affinity for a simple plate of pasta. Her favourite was found at Splendido, a Belmond hotel in Portofino, in a dish that pays dutiful attention to the humble tomato to achieve culinary heaven. Chef Corrado Corti's pasta alla Elizabeth Taylor uses bronze-drawn spaghetti — named after the cutting technique that gives the pasta a rougher texture to help the precious sauce cling. Slowly roasting the tomatoes confit-style for three hours brings out their coveted sweetness, while lemon zest and plenty of olive oil adds a mouthwatering richness.
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