For years most American cooks contented themselves with a small repertoire of tomato sauces. Then the word "pasta" came into our lives and cooks became exuberant with sauces.
Now that almost every grocery store has stocked a variety of pasta shapes, people are adding everything to the sauces from caviar to garden vegetables.
To treat a handsome bumpy plate of cavatelli to a plain tomato sauce is a letdown. The special curving shape needs something more -- something that celebrates its uniqueness, something with a small ingredient to get caught in the curve.
This year the pinnacle of chic is a Pasta Primavera, using the smallest of vegetables from the spring garden. The most posh collections include baby asparagus tips, but cooks prepare the dish all year long, tossing in whatever is fresh and crunchy, literally "tutto giardino," or the whole garden.
here are some recipes, none of them demanding that the rules be strictly kept. The Vermicelli With Broccoli would be equally good with cauliflower, but you'd need a handful of chopped parsley to give the finished dish some visual spark.
The message is to give way to temptation, but keep a steady hand. Replace the eggplant with green tomatoes in the Eggplant and Black Olive Sauce. I've never done it, but doesn't it sound good? Invent.The only thing you have to lose is plain old tomato sauce. Eggplant and Black Olive Sauce on Rigatoni 2 small eggplants weighing about 3/4 pound each 1 onion, finely chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 teaspoon rosemary Freshly ground pepper to taste 4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and Chopped 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1/4 cup pitted, chopped black oliveS, prefer ably Mediterranean-style Salt if needed 12 ounces rigatoni 1/2 cup chopped parsley 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Peel eggplant and cut in 1/2-inch cubes. Place in colander and salt liberally. Set in the sink and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse and dry. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add eggplant, onion, and garlic and saute over moderately high heat until ingredients are lightly browned. Add rosemary and pepper and stir for 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes and tomato paste if you feel the tomatoes aren't ripe enough, and simmer partly covered for 15 minutes. Add black olives and simmer 5 minutes more. In the meantime, boil rigatoni in plenty of salted water until al dente. Drain and place in a warm serving bowl. Top with half the eggplant sauce and toss. Top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with parsley and cheese. Serves 4 to 6. Red and Green Pepper Sauce on Cavatelli 1 large firm green pepper 1 large firm red pepper 1 hot green pepper, about 6 inches long or 6 pepperoncini, stemmed, seeded and cut in julienne 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground to taste 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil 2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped 1/4 pound mozzarella, coarsely grated 12 ounces cavatelli or medium shells
Clean and seed green, red, and hot peppers. Cut in fine julienne, or shred in salad shredder or food processor. Combine in small bowl with scallion, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Cover and marinate in refrigerator overnight, or at least 4 hours at room temperature. If refrigerated, bring sauce to room temperature before continuing.
Add chopped tomatoes and cheese. Cook pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente, or for the shortest time suggested on the box. Drain and place and heated serving bowl. Toss with cold sauce and serve hot or at room temperature to 4 or 6 people. Green Cabbage and Sausage With Noodles 1 pound hot Italian Sausage 1 tablespoon olive oil 12-pound head green, firm cabbage 1 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper 3/4 cup light cream 12 ounces medium egg noddles
A truly good sausage is the only secret of this well-flavored dish. Remove casing, heat olive oil in large skillet, and saute sausage meat until brown over moderately high heat.
Trim cabbage, cut in wedges, and core. Shred in salad shredder, using the medium blade; in a food processor; or with a sharp, heavy knife. Include some outside green leaves. When sausage is brown, remove with slotted spoon and reserve. Discard all but a quarter cup of fat. If sausage is very lean, you may need to add more olive oil.
Add shredded cabbage and toss to distribute the oil. Cook covered over moderate heat until cabbage is soft, scraping it often from bottom of pan with a spatula until it has browned.Taste cabbage and add more or less of the 1 teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle with a liberal amount of freshly ground pepper. Add the cream and heat.
Cook noodles in plenty of salted water, timing them to be done at the same time as the cabbage.Drain noodles and add to skillet with the sausage and toss. Eat piping hot. Serves 4 to 6 depending on the rest of the menu. Vermicelli With Broccoli 1 pound fresh, firm-headed broccoli 1/4 cup olive oil 4 large cloves garlic, chopped 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes 1/2 pound vermicelli broken into 2-inch pieces 3 cups well-seasoned chicken or beef broth, homemade or canned 1/2 cup minced parsley
This pasta dish has all the speed of a Chinese stir-fry. Cut florets from broccoli and split the largest into bite-size pieces. Peel broccoli stems and cut in bite-size pieces. In a large skillet with a tight lid, heat oil, add garlic, and stir until garlic begins to take on color. Immediately toos in broccoli, pepper flakes, vermicelli, and broth.
Stir to distribute ingredients, bring to a boil over high heat, cover, and cook briskly for 5 minutes. Check at 2 1/2 minutes to make sure pasta is not sticking. When done, pasta and broccoli shoula both be al dente. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately to 4 to 6 people. This dish is best without cheese. Linguine Italiano 12 ounces linguine 1/2 cup soybean oil margarine 3 cups zucchini, cooked and drained 2 cups chopped salami 1/4 cup chopped pimiento 1/4 cup choped pepper 12 1/2-ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained 1 tablespoon chopped chives 2 egg yolks, well-beaten 1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese Paprika, optional
In large pot cook linguine in boiling salted water until just tender; drain and return to pot. Gently stir in margarine until melted. Fold in Zucchini, salami, pimiento, pepper, mushrooms and chives.
Combine cream cheese and egg yolks and slowly add mixture to linguini, blending well. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Romano cheese. Gently mix over medium heat until heated through and thickened.
Serve on small plates. Sprinkle with remaining Romano cheese and paprika.Makes 8 to 10 appetizer servings or 4 main dish servings.