Something Italian

Cipriani Tagliolini au Gratin with Ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Ingredients Preparation

serves 4 - 6

  • 7 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper -2 oz.
  • (1/4"-thick) sliced prosciutto, diced
  • 3/4 lb. fresh spinach or egg tagliolini
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, make a bechamel sauce by melting 4 tbsp. of the butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and gradually whisk in milk.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, return pan to medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick and smooth, 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from heat, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of sauce (to keep a skin from forming),and set aside.

Preheat broiler and set rack about 4" from the heat. Melt 1 tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and crispy, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking very slowly while pasta cooks. Season boiling water generously with salt, add pasta, and cook, stirring, until just tender, 1½-2 minutes.

Drain pasta, then add to skillet containing prosciutto. Add 1 tbsp. of the butter and ¼ cup of the parmigiano-reggiano. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to mix well. Spoon pasta into a 2-quart baking dish and tamp it down lightly with the back of a spoon so that its surface is even. Spoon bechamel over top, and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup parmigiano-reggiano. Cut remaining 1 tbsp. butter into small pieces and scatter over top. Place dish in oven and broil until golden and bubbling, 2-3 minutes. Serve with additional parmigiano-reggiano at the table, if you like..

From "Harry's Bar cookbook" (Bantam, 1991)

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Pici with Cinta Senese Meat Sauce

Ingredients Preparation

Pici is the oldest and most traditional food of the neighbouring areas in Siena, particularly Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino up to Grosseto, where they are traditionally called "Princi".


They kind of represent the culinary genius of old country housewives who, with a little water and a little flour, could create a substantial appetizing dish, which left nobody hungry. In those days families were fed with little supply.

The most traditional sauce in the entire area of southern Tuscany and the most used in this area is that which we suggest in our recipe.


Cook the pici in boiling salted water; do not stir them for the first ten minutes so as to prevent breaking them.

Drain them after about 15 minutes and cook them in a pan with the Cinta Senese sauce. It is also advisable to keep some of the cooking water to add it to the pasta for taste, if necessary.

Serve hot, immediately, with sprinkled Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on each plate.

Paccheri with Ricotta cheese and Tomato Sauce

Ingredients Preparation

SERVES 4 to 6:

  • 2 cups smooth tomato sauce, made with onion, basil, and preferably
    but not necessarily with fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino, or a combination
  • 1 pound of Gerardo di Nola Half Paccheri or other large tubular pasta, such as rigatoni
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A few leaves of finely cut or torn fresh basil
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino, or a combination, for the table

Prepare the tomato sauce. Or reheat. Keep it hot, but not simmering.

Put the pasta water to boil.

In a pasta serving bowl, combine the ricotta and the grated cheese. Work them together with a spoon or fork until well blended.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until al dente. Before draining it, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve it.

Pour about half of the hot tomato sauce into the cheese mixture in the bowl. Stir well. Add the drained, hot pasta to the sauce, then black pepper to taste. Toss well, adding hot pasta cooking water by the tablespoon if a looser, creamier texture is desired. The sauce tends to thicken as it cools in the plate, so 2 or 3 tablespoons are usually a good idea. If using the more condensed, imported or Italian-style ricotta impastare, the more solid form of ricotta, some water will definitely be needed.)

Serve immediately, preferably in hot bowls, each portion topped with a little more tomato sauce and with additional finely cut basil, if desired. Pass grated cheese and the peppermill.


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