This Week in Cooking: My Silver Spoon Crush

I have a total cookbook crush on The Silver Spoon: Pasta. It’s a $40 cookbook, translated from the original Italian, in which every recipe involves pasta. Because it is $40, I love it from afar, often stopping to pet it or memorize recipes from it when I’m at the bookstore, and to whisper, “Someday, mi amor! Someday!” into its slick, picture-laden pages.

Il ragazzo and I have been trying a few of the shortest, easiest to remember recipes recently. They haven’t disappointed, though they have reminded me of the stark difference between how Americans see pasta and how Italians see pasta. Americans see it as a meal in and of itself, and therefore stack ingredients into our dishes accordingly. In Italy, pasta was always il primo piatto, the thing that came first. Sure, it packed a good, filling punch, but it wasn’t the centerpiece of the meal — that was reserved for the fish or meat that came in the second course. Beyond that, the American concept of Italian food is wildly over spiced — please, U.S.A., put down the oregano. Tomatoes are fine on their own.

The recipes in this book are mostly composed of simple pasta recipes — pasta, a vegetable, a dash of cream. Italian first course pasta. Not the Garlic Apricot Chicken with Pesto that the Americanized palate is used to. (I include myself here).

Anyway, Monday night after work I made Bucatini Con Salsa Ai Peperoni — Bucatini with Bell Pepper Sauce. I haven’t actually seen bucatini since I was in Italy — it’s a long pasta, like spaghetti except twice as thick, because it’s also hollow. I substituted thin spaghetti, because that was what I had on hand.

Bucatini Con Salsa Ai Peperoni

From The Silver Spoon Pasta Cookbook

Ingredients:
12 oz. bucatini
3 red or yellow bell peppers, sliced
1/2 cup cream
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
1 pearl onion, chopped
2 tsp. fresh marjoram

Saute the garlic and onion in oil for 10 minutes over low heat, until they brown. Add the peppers and cook for another ten minutes, until they’re soft. Puree the peppers and onions in a food processor, then return to the pan, add the cream and heat through.
Cook the pasta; drain and add to the cream mixture. Toss, add the marjoram and salt/pepper to taste.

Easy, right? Only I hit some snags. First: the store had only the lamest looking bell peppers imaginable, and one I brought home had mold inside. So we were down 1/3 of our peppers. Second, my tiny food processor made what I’d call pepper confetti, not really a pepper puree. I’d imagine the actual sauce is supposed to be a bit creamier, and to have a little more liquid to it that the bucatini can drink up. Instead, there were clumps of pepper-mix hanging to one side and pasta leering at them from across the bowl, like 80s movie stars at a fake high school dance.

It was still good. I mean, it had heavy cream. Which brings me to an important quiz:

Do you consider cream:

  1. A luxury — only to be used on special occasions
  2. A death sentence — to be avoided at all costs!
  3. A condiment

Let me know in the comments. There’s no wrong answer, but some folks just won’t be invited to dinner.

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6 Responses to This Week in Cooking: My Silver Spoon Crush

  1. amazon.ca has it on sale for much cheaper, if you’re feeling tempted (the dollars are more or less at par, but it’s still a good deal): http://www.amazon.ca/Silver-Spoon-Pasta-Editors-Phaidon/dp/0714857262/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272560178&sr=8-2

    • Jenn says:

      Ooh, that is a good price. I am always tempted by this book; it might come home with me this week thanks to a 40% off coupon I just got for Borders! (I feel the Internet might be conspiring to get me to spend the money).

  2. Darcy says:

    I love bucatini! I just tried for the first time a few week ago!! My answer to your quiz is 1, but I don’t love cream unless it is loosely holding important ingredients together.

  3. Star Straf says:

    A condiment

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