Now before I start telling you all I know about spaghetti and before I share with you my very special spaghetti recipe, I want to say something about Italian cooking and eating.
While in many different cultures a meal often consists in one main course and a dessert, in Italy we have a different way of serving a meal. So in case you ever want to come to Italy here is what you should expect on a menu.
First of all you begin your Italian meal with a starter, some entrees or few appetizers served with a glass of Italian wine. Depending on the region you are visiting the starters will be very different from place to place.
At this point you are ready to start your actual meal with what we call “primo” and this is literally the first course – it can be any kind of pasta, soup or risotto.
“Primo” in Italian means “first” so this is actually your first course and quite often it consists of a good and delicious spaghetti recipe like: spaghetti with tomato sauce, spaghetti with fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese, spaghetti alla carbonara or spaghetti all’amatriciana!
This last one was hard to pronounce right? No worries, it’s easier than you think.
After your “primo” you have a long and different choice of what we call “secondo” meaning…
Guess what? You are right”! “Second”.
This is literally the second course and it can be any kind of proteins like: meat, fish, eggs, like frittata, sometimes cheese.
The second course should be served with a side dish consisting on cooked or raw vegetables.
So this is a long meal isn’t it?
Finally, when you are about to burst, someone will serve you some fresh fruit. They will then ask you what kind of dessert you prefer, and to finish your meal in proper Italian Style you have to drink a coffee, more specifically an espresso.
Once you are done with your espresso coffee you will be asked if you would like what we call “ammazza caffé“. Now this is really weird because what it literally means is: ” coffee killer “.
I never figured out why, not even my Grandma knows about the real meaning of this expression…
Anyways “ammazza caffé” is a liquor and every region has its special kind. If you go to Liguria they will most likely serve you some Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà which is some sort of raisin wine. If you are in Sardinia, which is an Italian Island, they will serve you some Mirto (myrtle liqueur).
If you are in Tuscany – where Grandma and I live – you’ll have some Vin Santo which again is a sort of raisin wine with cantucci which is almond cookies. In Sicily Passito Wine from Pantelleria it’s very popular and people like to drink it at the end of their meal.
Now let’s get back to the spaghetti recipe (which will be your “primo“).
First of all: there is one thing you should never do – especially if some kind of Italian Grandma like mine is watching you while you cook – and that is to break your spaghetti in halves!
Please don’t do that ever!
Pasta is usually divided in fresh or dry and long or short. Spaghetti together with linguini for example is a long type of pasta.
I usually prefer short pasta like: penne, farfalle, conchiglie and so on…But I have to say that spaghetti are really good as well.
Besides when you have spaghetti at home you can literally cook tens and thousands of spaghetti recipe.
Here are some just to mention some of my favorite.
You can top your spaghetti with:
- tomato sauce for a real Italian Classic;
- cheese like ricotta cheese and black pepper (this in Rome is called “cacio e pepe“);
- vegetable or mashed vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or mushroom. And this is so delicious and it’s also perfect if you are vegetarian;
- tomato and olives;
- basil sauce–> pesto;
- eggs and bacon (this is to make carbonara spaghetti recipe);
- tomato, Pecorino Romano cheese and jowl bacon (this is to make amatriciana spaghetti recipe).
One of my Grandma’s favorite is a special spaghetti recipe with sausage. She loves sausage and she loves spaghetti so there! Nothing will make her happy as much as a plate of spaghetti with Italian Sausage and a glass of wine.
- Ingredients you will need to make Grandma’s special spaghetti recipe with sausage:
– a small stalk of celery
– 1 carrot
– 1 garlic clove
– 1 onion (preferably a purple onion)
– extra virgin olive oil
– tomato sauce
- Here is what you’ll do to make this delicious spaghetti recipe:
pour a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a pan and sauté garlic, sliced carrots, celery and onion. Take out the skin of your sausage and just use the chopped meat and when all your veggies are golden sauté the sausage meat. Mix well and let the meat cook with the sauteed vegetables.
When the sausage is well cooked add tomato sauce, salt and a dash of sugar in order to lessen the sour taste of the tomato.
Let cook and add a half glass of water or homemade vegetable broth if you have some. The cooking process dries the sauce so you want to add water or broth to keep it moist and not thick.
If you make extra sauce you can freeze it for next time you want to have this tasty spaghetti recipe with sausage for dinner.
- To make spaghetti:
bring the water to a boil, add salt and spaghetti. Make sure the fire of your stove doesn’t burn your spaghetti before they become soft enough to fall all the way into the boiling water. With a wooden spoon help the spaghetti soften and let the boiling water cover them all the way through.
Don’t overcook your spaghetti! Usually 8/10 minutes is enough depending on the brand and the kind you have.
When the spaghetti are cooked drain them in a colander but do not rinse them under cold water
(don’t ever wash your pasta like that!).
Now pour the spaghetti in the same pan where you have your sausage sauce and sauté everything together.
With the help of a ladle you can form a nest to serve the spaghetti on a plate.
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese of the best quality that you can find.
Enjoy this spaghetti recipe with sausage directly from Tuscany!
I have more for you…
Today I also want to share with you this easy recipe very popular in the area around Siena.
Pici all’Aglione (spaghetti recipe which is a specialty from Siena -Tuscany-Italy).
This is a very simple meal of the Italian rural tradition.
Pici are a kind of full bodied spaghetti. They are made with flour, water and egg.
The last week-end of May at San Casciano dei Bagni (Tuscany) there is a fair that celebrates this typical ingredient of the Val d’Orcia, it’s called “Sagra dei Pici“! You should go see it one day to really feel the Italian, Mediterranean Vibe.
- Here is what you will need:
– 0.8 pounds / 400 gr. pici
– 4 cloves of garlic
– 4 tomatoes
– hot pepper
– olive oil (extra virgin is better)
Cook the Pici in salted boiling water.
Gently press the garlic cloves to let the flavor spread when cooking in the pan.
Saute the pressed garlic cloves in a pan with some extra virgin olive. Let the garlic turn golden but not brown otherwise it becomes bitter.
Add hot pepper (if you have fresh ground black pepper simply crush it on top of the garlic).
Cut some tomatoes in small cubes and add them to the pan with the golden garlic cloves and the hot pepper and let sauté on medium heat.
Add salt and let cook until all the water from tomatoes evaporates.
When the Pici are cooked, drain them in a colander and then add them to the pan with the sauce and let sauté for a while until everything is well mixed up.
Decorate with few leaves of fresh basil and serve. Enjoy it! And don’t forget to let me know if you liked it.
- Bottom line
There are a few strict rules to follow when it comes to spaghetti, if you liked this post I’m sure you’ll remember them next time you’ll cook your favorite spaghetti recipe!
Please let me know if you’ve tried Grandma’s recipes, she’ll love to hear from you!