Here at Homebase Abroad its all about the sauce.
Not only do we vividly recall the style and flavors of each sauce we’ve experienced during our Italian villa vacations but its also a practical way to keep your vacation experience alive and fresh.
While the idea of mastering the skill of pasta making on vacation and delighting your friends and family with homemade linguine is romantic, the reality is the hours you’ll spend in the kitchen will only leave you with a big mess. Rather than contending with the fuss of turning cups of flour into a proper pasta, we suggest focusing on crafting several delicious sauces that embody the authentic taste, aroma and sensations that comes with true Italian cooking.
Focus on the Finish
Truth be told, when dining out, we often times don’t select a pasta dish because of the shape of the noodle. We focus on how it is finished —traditional comfort food style or spare modern interpretations, wintry warm or summer light, a vehicle for garden produce or a tried-and-true.
Source Local Ingredients
Visit your local farmers market or gourmet grocer to stock up on fresh (not dried) pasta of your choice. The key to Italian sauces is including pure, local ingredients. Do your best to source the best locally grown, organic ingredients for your sauce: tomatoes, basil, garlic and onion. These Italian sauces are a take less than 30 minutes to prepare and will elevate any store-bought bucatini, tagliatelle, pappardelle, fusilli and classic spaghetti.
Pasta all’Amatriciana is a dish local to the town of Amatrice in the region of Lazio. Although this dish is traditionally served with Bucatini, a classic spaghetti or rigatoni would also do.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, or half oil, half butter
- 1/2 lb. pancetta, cut in thin strips
- 1 dried red chili pepper or flakes (amount to taste)
- 1 medium onion, sliced thin or diced fine
- 1 lb. tomatoes, chopped (peel them for a smoother sauce)
- 1 lb. bucatini or other long pasta
- Plenty of freshly-grated pecorino Romano cheese
- Heat olive oil (and butter, if using) over medium heat, and sauté the pancetta for about five minutes. Add chili or flakes to taste and continue cooking until pancetta browns a little. Add onion and cook until golden. Stir in the tomatoes and cook about fifteen to twenty minutes, until the sauce thickens.
- While the sauce cooks, heat a large pot of salted water to boiling, and cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain the pasta. Remove the chili pepper from the sauce if you have used a whole one. Add the pasta to the sauce in its pan, and toss well.
- Serve with plenty of pecorino Romano
Recipe from The Italian South
Genoa Pesto Sauce
A pesto done right is supremely elegant. In under 30 minutes you can whip up a sauce that bursts with flavor and will transport you and your dinner guests directly back to the salty sea air the of Italian Riviera. A classic pesto sauce relies on the purity of three main ingredients: basil, olive oil and garlic.
Insider tip: stick to organic basil and only wash the basil leaves if absolutely necessary because washing them removes some of the essential oils that give pesto its aromatic flavor.
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of pine nuts
- 2 bunches (about 1 cup of leaves) of fresh basil
- Pinch of rock salt
- 1 ½ tablespoon of parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ tablespoon of pecorino cheese, grated
- 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Wash the basil leaves with cold water and put them on a canvas to dry without wrecking them. They must be very dry before proceeding with the preparation of the pesto. Be careful to lift the whole stem, the stems in fact contain a lot of water and it could be difficult to smash the leaves in the mortar.
- Put a clove of garlic in the mortar, taking care to remove any inner green bit (that is the less digestive part of the garlic). Add 1/3 of the pine nuts and with an up and down motion of the pestle crush until it is reduced to a cream. Scoop out the garlic cream from the mortar and put aside. You will add it later.
- Put the remaining pine nuts in the mortar, add 2/3 of the basil leaves and few grains of rock salt. Rock salt is needed because it helps grinding and allows to break basil leaves while using the pestle. It also prevents oxidation. However, do not exaggerate with salt: you cannot come back!
- Begin smashing the basil leaves with a rotating movement along the interior walls of the mortar. Basil leaves should be “torn up” not pounded. In this way they release the essential oils contained in the internal veins. Pour until an homogenous cream is obtained. Add the remaining leaves, some more rock salt grains (be careful)and continue smashing.
- When the last basil leaves are mixed, add the garlic cream previously left aside. Add them little at a time and taste.
- Then add cheeses. Amalgamate and taste. Adjust with salt if necessary.
- Finally, add the oil, stirring gently and making sure that the oil does not create an emulsion. After finishing the pesto, keep it under alight layer of oil to prevent oxidation.
- Serve on top of your favorite spaghetti or tortellini.
Recipe from A Small Kitchen in Genoa
Cacio e Pepe
Translating simply to cheese and pepper, Cacio e Pepe is a staple dish from Rome. Although this dish only consists of four simple ingredients: just-boiled pasta, lots of grated pecorino romano, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of salt, the art of the sauce lies within the technique.
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-6 People
- 500g (1 lb) tonnarelli, spaghetti, bucatini or other long pasta
- 250g (1/2 lb) freshly grated pecorino cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt, for boiling the pasta
- Boil the pasta in well salted water, drain it—but not too well—and pour it into a large, warmed mixing bowl.
- Add the grated pecorino and lots of freshly ground pepper, and mix very well until the hot water that clings to the pasta melts the cheese to make a kind of creamy sauce.
- Serve on heated plates, topped if you want with more grated pecorino and another healthy grinding of pepper.
Recipe from Memorie di Angelina
The magic of an Italian Villa Vacation is the chance to live like a local for a week or two or three, where food and time are essential to experiencing the culture. Your newfound sauce-making skills will solve dinnertime dilemmas and transport you back.