Pasta Primavera and Cantuccini di Prato

Today’s recipe is probably the fastest pasta sauce we have ever done; with the help of a good blender, you can be ready to serve lunch in less than 15 minutes.
When we cook any past sauce, it is usually a rule of thumb to start making the sauce, and eventually boil the water and cook the pasta. With this recipe you can instead start by putting your pot of salted water on the stove, fire it up, and while you wait for the water to come to a boil, you can get its condiment ready. Most likely, your “Primavera Sauce” will be done and ready, sitting in a bowl, before you are even able to start cooking the pasta…the water won’t be boiling yet!Only a couple of things to say about this recipe, to make your life even easier, and your mouth happier.

Try to pick very ripe tomatoes, you want the sauce to be as red as you can; when tomatoes are not ready, or you are not in season, the final color will be….pink (Which is what happened to me last night when feeding my daughters. Luckily pink is cool, and they had no objections or remarks). If you know how to buy good produce you will never go wrong.
About consistency: dose slowly the parmesan into the blender. If your tomatoes are not very juicy, the sauce can thicken too much and become more a paste than a pasta condiment. If this happens you can either add another tomato or add some olive oil.

To prepare today’s dessert though, you will have to turn on the oven, work your elbow and get your hands dirty with some dough. “Cantuccini Di Prato” is one of the most traditional desserts throughout Tuscany; litterally translated “little corners”, these dry cookies filled with roasted walnuts are usually served with Vin Santo, a sweet wine where to dip your crunchy treat in.
No big surprises in these recipe, except for the fact that it took me a while to figure out the levitation of the dough. I brought this recipe from Italy, and it called for a bag of Vanillated Yeast: I spent two weeks trying to substitute with active dry yeast, baking powder, and even different combinations of both ingredients. Finally, unwilling to give up (the cookies came out always tasting good, but never rose enough), I decided to start scavenging my friends’ pantries…
As usual, it was my friend Marzia that saved the day; she had two bags of “Lievito Vanigliato Bertolini” that expired two years ago; needless to say, finally my cookies came out the way they were supposed to, the way I did expect them to come out! Now that I did have some more time to do my research, don’t you know, you can buy “Italian Yeast” on amazon!
Go wash your hands, time to cook!


INGREDIENTI

PASTA PRIMAVERA

Serves: 4 / Prep Time: 10-15 min

6 ripe Roma or San Marzano Tomaoes
4 cloves of Garlic
1 generous handful of fresh Basil
½ cup of Pinoli Nuts
½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

CANTUCCINI DI PRATO

Serves: 12 / Prep Time: 20 min / Cook Time: 25-30 min

1 ¼ Cup Sugar (250 gr)
2 2/3 Cup Unbleached Flour (400 gr)
6 Oz Unsalted Raw Almonds (150 gr)
3 Whole Eggs
3 Egg Yolks
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Orange Zest
1 Bag of Yeast (about 0.5 Oz)
1 Pinch of Salt

PASTA PRIMAVERA (Raw "Tomato Pesto" sauce)

1

Bring a small pot of water to a boil; one by one, stick each tomato on a fork and dip them into the boiling water for about a minute. Remove from the pot, and use your fingers to peel the skin off.

In a blender, mix all the ingredients, salt and pepper to taste; when done, place the sauce in a bowl and set aside.

2

Cook your pasta al dente.

3

When ready, strain it and pour it into a serving bowl, add the sauce and stir well.

Serve it dressed with some grated Parmesan, a couple of leaves of Basil broken into pieces, and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Enjoy spring...and summer!

CANTUCCINI DI PRATO (Dipping Almond Cookies)

1

Preheat the oven to 375º.

2

Lay the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes, moving them around a couple of times during the process. When ready, rest them on a cooling rack.

3

In a small bowl whisk together flour, yeast and orange zest.

4

In a larger bowl mix the sugar, 2 eggs and the 3 egg yolks, make sure to work well all the lumps. Add the butter melted in “bain marie” or in the microwave oven for just a few seconds.

5

Combine all the ingredients and mix very well.

6

When the dough is ready and smooth, add the almonds, and when they are well incorporated in the mix, make two long loafs of it and lay them on a buttered cookie sheet.

7

Beat the remaining egg, and glaze the dough, with a kitchen brush.

8

Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, when the loafs start browning it is time to quickly take them out of the oven, slice them into ½ inch cookies and return them into the oven to crisp for an additional 5 minutes.

9

When ready, cool the cookies on a rack for a few minutes, then start enjoying them.

They will last about a week if properly stored in a tupperware or in a ziplock bag.

Enjoy them with coffee or dipped in sweet or red wine.

Buon Appetito!

Debi and Gabriele