I often times will turn to my Batali cookbook collection for dinner inspiration. I recently came across his recipe for Farfalle Abruzzese and decided to give it a try. Finally chopped porcini mushrooms, ground veal and tomato paste are turned into a simple yet rich sauce in this easy to make recipe perfect for a romantic night at home. I omitted the spinach for personal reasons but otherwise recreated the dish exactly.
(adapted from Mario Batali)
Serves 6 as a main course
3 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ pounds ground veal shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup double-concentrated tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup basic tomato sauce (recipe below)
1 ½ pounds farfalle pasta
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, and coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, and set it aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is lightly toasted. Add the veal and the chopped porcini, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the meat is well browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the tomato paste. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the paste turns a rust color, 5 minutes. Then add the wine and 1 cup of the strained porcini soaking liquid, and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a very low simmer.
3. Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large spaghetti pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.
4. Drop the farfalle into the water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Just before the pasta is done, carefully ladle ¼ cup of the cooking water into the veal mixture.
5. Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the veal mixture. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, with the grated pecorino on the side.
BASIC TOMATO SAUCE
Yield: 4 cups
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt, to taste
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.
This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.