finding inspiration in a fabulous new cookbook

Pasta is a lifesaving commodity for any home cook. It’s where I turn when I’ve had a crazy day, everyone is hungry and cranky and I’ve got little time and even less inspiration. I know pasta will satisfy and now I’ve got a whole book full of inspiration.

The Glorious Pasta of Italy.

You already have ‘met’ Domenica Marchetti. She helped me develop the Italian sausage recipes for this month’s Charcutepalooza and whipped up a version of her Baked Rigatoni al Telefono with Smoked Mozzerella with some of that sausage. One of the wonderful things Domenica gave me that day was permission to fiddle around with the recipes. After all, she went and added sausage!

The book is approachable and constructed perfectly for use in the kitchen, with mouthwatering photos, enchanting headnotes, easy to read ingredient lists, and clear instructions. The recipes run the gamut from classics, sauces, “showstoppers”, soups, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy pasta – al forno – or baked. There are recipes for every season, every occasion, and every circumstance. And I just loved the tutorial on pasta making.

I’ve tried a few of the recipes in the book – Laura’s Black Pepper, Parsley and Parmigiano Pasta was perfect for lunch one day. Mafalde with Roasted Tomatoes, a satisfying Robiola and Crushed Fennel Seeds for dinner, and the Grated Spinach Pasta Soup which was like nothing I’d ever had before. FANTASTICO. I can’t wait for an excuse to cook up one of the truly spectacular recipes like Roasted Buttercup Squash and Pear Triangoli with Cambozola Sauce.

Today, I’m honored to be one of the bloggers participating in Domenica’s online pasta party. Bloggers across the country are celebrating the publication of The Glorious Pasta of Italy. I selected a vegetarian friendly dish, Orecchiette with Creamy Broccoli Sauce, a velvety, creamy good-for-you sauce that collects in the lovely little cups of orecchiette.

I even made my own orecchiette. First time. And I’ll never turn back. Homemade, these toothy pasta scoops are so much more tender than store-bought. I substituted oat flour for the wheat as Dennis and I prefer it. You could substitute any flour – barley, buckwheat, spelt – for about 1/3 the total flour used in a pasta dough. I also had duck eggs on hand, which made the pasta a little more yellow in color, with a richer flavor.

To make the sauce, Domenica has you steam the broccoli and then saute garlic cloves (or shallots, if you over-garlicked something last week and your spouse hasn’t yet recovered.) Add the broccoli to the garlic and olive oil, saute for a few minutes until tender. Salt and cayenne elevate the flavors. Finally, deglaze the pan with white wine.

When the broccoli has cooled, blitz it in the blender with some broth (I used vegetable.) Once pureed, put the sauce back in the pan, heat it through, adding a dollop of cream at the end to pull it all together.

The sauce clung to the pasta, a shower of grated Parmigiano was perfect.

With Domenica’s encouraging writing throughout the cookbook, she nudged me to make the dish my own.

In the refrigerator, I spied the leftover grilled salmon… and remembered a conversation with my friend Jennifer. She was raving about a recent dinner, and even showed me the leftovers, caramelized onions, oriecchiette and big flakes of broiled salmon. Without thinking twice, I flaked leftover salmon on the broccoli sauced pasta.

Domenica, my friend, I realize I broke the cardinal rule – there was cheese and there was fish. But it was sooooo good! Will you forgive me?

So – my wonderful readers – are you ready to win something? I’m going to make it easy. Just tell me your favorite pasta dish in the comments section and Friday morning, 6/3, I’ll randomly select one of you to receive a copy of this fantastic new cookbook. And when you have a frazzled day, you’ll turn to it, and you will make your family a wonderful dinner with Domenica at your side, inventive, reassuring and companionable.

Invio milione abbracci e di tutti gli nostri auguri per il tuo nuovo libro, il mia amica, Domenica.

55 thoughts on “finding inspiration in a fabulous new cookbook”

  1. This book looks so wonderful! My favorite pasta dish involves a tomato sauce with spicy sausage and peppers (hmm…sounds like something I should make for charcutepalooza)…

  2. Cathy, I love that you made orecchiette. The salmon is a brilliant twist. I love it aesthetically and I’m sure it was delicious. Thanks so much for being part of the pasta party! xo

  3. How lovely! I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut around pastas and I’m sure this book would help bring me out of it. I think my favourite pasta at the moment is just about any kind of lasagne, though I made one this winter with butternut squash and gorgonzola that was very rich and very tasty.

  4. Ooooooh, this pasta looks fantastic! Love the idea of broccoli as a sauce…maybe I could even get my broccoli-hating boyfriend to like it…as long as I didn’t tell him what it was! šŸ˜‰

    It’s hard to pick a favorite pasta dish, but I think I’d have to go with a dish I made a couple of years ago, lemon goat cheese ravioli with chipotle cream sauce. A lot of work, but worth it – yum! šŸ™‚

  5. My favorite pasta has to be a mushroom bolognese sauce recipe I got from Whole Foods 20 years ago. You would swear there was meat in it, and it is so rich and flavorful. I like it on ravioli or penne.

    1. the recipe for mushroom bolognese sauce sounds real good could you send me the recipe .i would love to make that. thanks joan pagano

  6. This pasta and sauce recipe sounds amazing! My favorite pasta dish is the the one I made last evening-fresh garlic scape pesto, tossed with some linguini and butter sauteed shrimp-heaven on a plate!

  7. I want this book. Now. I also want that pasta. Now.

    My favorite pasta dish is a sundried tomato and goat cheese sauce I make in the food processor. Some sauteed onions and garlic, hot pepper flakes. Throw in the sundried tomatoes (packed in oil), blitz it, and then stream in some of the pasta water until it’s a frothy bit of wonderful. Add in some Parm and then goat cheese. So damn good.

    But I still want that book.

  8. Tomato sauce can sometimes be a bit too acidic for me, so I lean toward aglio e olio or pesto. I love this on linguine or gnocchi, though I haven’t gotten to making my own gnocchi yet!

  9. ohmuhgawdie . . . i have to choose? that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child . . . well if i must . . . probably black pepper and Parmesan Reggiano on buccatini . . . swoon!!

  10. Right now, my favorite sauce is a pesto trapanese…uncooked tomatoes, basil, garlic & roasted almonds with a healthy dose of parmesan cheese. SWOON!!!!!

  11. Pizzoccheri —

    I use whole wheat pasta because I have never seen buckwheat pasta other than soba noodles. I also add more potatoes, cabbage, and sage than Bittman calls for in the recipe. Interestingly, in the video, it looks like he does too.

    I also often make a green sauce from Laurel’s Kitchen that is a little similar to the pureed broccoli sauce: sautee an onion and a little garlic in olive oil; add a chopped green bell pepper, 3 chopped stalks celery, a chopped bunch parsley, some dried herbs, and a cup of stock or water; simmer until tender; puree in the blender; finish with more olive oil, salt, and pepper. The recipe will sauce 1-1.5lb pasta.

  12. My favorite pasta dish is orecchiette with a “sauce” made from uncured local bacon, kale (when in season), parmesan, and fresh oregano. The kale fills the nooks in the pasta, and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes gives it a little kick. Yum! I will definitely try making my own orecchiette next time.

  13. My favourite pasta dish is pesto pasta, with fresh basil straight from the garden, heaps of garlic and buttery toasted pine nuts. It is the smell of summer to me

  14. this is just a regular comment, Cathy, as I already have the book, but I did want to add my two cents in support of this recipe! I made the sauce the other night and plan to make the orrechiette soon. We loved the combination of the broccoli with the broccoli rabe. So good and half the bite!

  15. Pasta carbonara with homemade ricotta mixed in. So good. The book looks so lovely. Maybe homemade pasta making is in my future. You’ve already inspired me to make charcuterie and can preserves. šŸ™‚

  16. Wow! I make pasta all the time, but I always make either pappardelle, ravioli or tortellini. You’ve inspired me to try another shape to add to my repertoire, the orecchiette looks awesome, and not too difficult to make!

  17. Oh this looks wonderful! I have rediscovered the joy of making my own pasta at home and just bought an extruder. Would love to play with the recipes in this book šŸ™‚

  18. Lasagna! made after milking the cow for the mozzarella and ricotta, and made with dry-farmed tomato sauce. And using pasture-raised chicken eggs for the pasta. Of course.

  19. My to die for favorite is: crab stuffed manicotti with a light cream sauce and garden fresh herbs or topped with a red sauce. I could eat these without any sauce they are so good.

  20. Like Polly, I too love lasagna. I think it was the first dish I learned to make and I change it up almost every single time. One dish, so many possibilities. I also really don’t discriminate against any pasta. Love it all which is why I would die on a carb free diet.

  21. For my first attempt at ravioli, I made kuri squash (very sweet and flavorful winter variety) raviolis, adding only a touch of salt and a whisper of cinnamon to the cooked squash. Being a ravioli-newbie, I was afraid they would fall apart in the boiling water (salted like the sea), but they remained intact. I served them with a pancetta (Charcutepalooza challenge) cream sauce made with shallots and diced pancetta, deglazed with some dry white wine, to which I added about 1/4c. pasta water and a 1/2 – 1 c. cream. It cooked until it reduced and thickened. I also added some black pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. dried thyme. See it here:

    I also love Gina DePalma’s Farfalle with Zucchini and Gorgonzola (

    But now I have to have “The Glorious Pasta of Italy” because you have tempted me! Thank you, Cathy!

  22. It’s hard to pick one – especially having been to Italy once and tasting so many more than we know of here. But our list is growing. Perhaps the one I go to most is fettuccine (wheat or spinach) as there seems to be so many ways to sauce it. I’ve been using my canned tomatoes from last summer and am just about ready for a new crop. I add everything in the refrig to it and have had no regrets! I really want to try your orichette now too! Thanks for sharing so much! Lyn

  23. My favorite pasta dish is a liitle different. Cheese tortellini with spinach and onions. It’s essentially sag panner, with tortellini rather than just cheese.
    Lovely post. I’m inspire to try the broccoli recipe!

  24. I always love any pasta with tomatoes( marinara, bolognese, marinara with a few roasted red peppers,and the list goes on) But if its cold and blustery my favorite is a papperadel with a lovely meaty ragu!

  25. gnocci (sp?) with scrambled eggs, chives and whatever — a perfect end-of-the-week or end-of-my rope meal!

  26. My absolute favorite pasta of all time both to make and eat is ricotta gnocchi pan-seared with butter and sage. Crisp on the outside creamy on the inside!

  27. My favorite pasta dish all this past winter has been penne with winter squash and ricotta from Lorna Sass’s Pressure Perfect. But today I planted 8 different tomatoes so now I’m dreaming of red sauces…

  28. Awesome visuals that caught even me on GAPS especially after I read about your grain substitution. AT some point I will be able to use these recipes in the next few months and thank you for directing me to this cook book as I’ve never made pasta but watched my mom do it when I was little. Thanks Cathy.

  29. Favorite pasta dish?! Oh, that’s difficult but for us it’s about simplicity: linguine with very good extra virgin olive oil, parsley, garlic, and red pepper flakes. And, of course, plenty of grated Grana.

    Check out the Scordo Pasta Challenge everyone, especially if you’re a pasta lover (sorry for the plug but it’s really a plug for pasta lovers!):


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