a trio of pastas

September 5th, 2007 · 9 Comments


party at my place.  a friend’s big birthday.  cooking for 10.  coming up with the right menu.  making sure things work together and that i’m not making too much.  too little.  too complicated. 

but before i go on i’ve just got to make a local mention.  because if anyone from nashville is reading, what’s VERY good news around here is ‘lazzaroli‘.  and i mean VERY good news.  nashville finally has a real live italian market stocked with real live italian made-on-the-premises fresh pastas in all shapes and flavors along with many interesting raviolis and great cheeses, oils, olives, vinegars, sausages, salamis and yes, even my beloved cannolis.  plus the owner is a real live italian american from: not-from-here.  and that right there, that totally matters bigtime.  the wannabes screw it all up…

i decided to go with one of my favorite italian dinners – the trio of pastas.  i’ve encountered this in italy on a few different occasions and it seemed like a fine idea for this gathering.  the inspiration was from a new book that arrived in my mail box last week.  i’d heard about ‘pasta fresca‘ by viana la place and evan kleiman, on some blog, somewhere, awhile back.  after reading through it this past weekend, i immediately ordered another copy for a friend.  (amazon used books – love it.)  it’s the kind of cookbook i can relate to and really use.  italian food needs to never be complicated.  few ingredients but the very best quality.  it’s so my kinda thing.

so last night when cary got home and before our friends arrived i said, “smell that?  that’s pure italian.”  the oregano, thyme, garlic, lemon, shrimp, veal – add some heat and the mix is absolutely intoxicating.  it’s like walking into your favorite restaurant and wanting to order whatever it is that’s wafting through the air.  but it’s not any one dish – it’s everything.


we started with some beautiful heirlooms, sliced and then rebuilt with basil leaves and buffalo mozarella placed inbetween the layers.  scattered around the three tomato towers were some chunked yellow heirlooms, jalepeno stuffed green olives, and a wonderful chianti sausage from ‘volpi‘ in st.louis that tom lazzaro recommended.  add to that a great bread and some olive oil and this alone would make a perfect dinner.


but it was a party and i was going for the bigger spread.  so now i had to choose my trio.  i suppose the whole idea is to have them be as different from each other as possible without a serious clash.  i decided upon 1/ a fresh fettucine in a lemon and black olive sauce, 2/ a rustic spaghettini from sicily with shrimp, garlic, oregano, chili peppers, breadcrumbs and fennel tops. and lastly, 3/ rotelle – or as we’d call them cartwheels – ground veal combined with onion, fresh thyme sprigs, and lemon zest in a tomato based cream sauce.  and i got all three from ‘pasta fresca’.  and they were all three just excellent.  as good as anything i’ve ever had in italy. 

plus the lemon olive fettucine which i never did get a good photo of…

and that right there i know is a big bold statement – and perhaps a bit of selective memory.


(the ‘rustic plum cake‘ making a second appearance – this time made in the right sized 9″ pan (cary offered to buy me one and it was his idea and everything – very impressive), the plums were right side up and then the cake was dusted with the obligatory powdered sugar.  much nicer.  i made two.  and once again, i say – go find yourself some plums and get baking.  it’s easy and it’s almondy delicious.)

Tags: pasta · seafood · veal

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Butta Buns // Sep 5, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Damn, you’re making me drool all over my keyboard. Next time you throw a party, I’m crashing it!

    The pasta looks incredible and sounds amazing. That settles it, when my stomach’s back to solid food I’m making one of those dishes.

    PS Love the Jenga-ed tomatoes and mozzarella!

  • 2 shannon // Sep 6, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    i was there. i’m still there. eats that good tend to hang around my memory for some time.
    i’ve had a constant desire to go help “clean up” the leftovers, but there weren’t any really, except for a few scant wheels left on the platter for the sake of southern manners.
    the fresh fettucine with olives and lemon was the best. fresh pasta melts in your mouth and absorbs flavors like a sponge. this dish was devine. but how could it be the best, when really, that title was held by the shrimp spaghettini .
    with it’s high notes coming from simmered red pepper flakes and shrimp in evoo, claudia then combined fresh fennel tops to the boiling pasta water, fragrancing both the air and the dish with licorice brilliance. but how could it be the best dish when you found an el dente cartwheel tumbling about your tongue releasing it’s hold of creamy tomato simmered ground veal covered in fresh grated parm?

    i genuflect to you, my dear.

  • 3 Amy // Sep 6, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    All of these pastas look so delicious, if I ever find myself down Nashville way, I’m knocking on your door — after stopping in at Lazzaroli. Yum.

    You mentioned travelling to Italy. Was Milan perhaps on your itinerary? My husband and I are going in a few weeks and, while I have plenty of design-related places to visit, I haven’t gotten any restaurant suggestions yet.

    Oh, and if you’re ever in St. Louis, skip the arch and brewery and head straight for the Hill, and the Volpi deli.

  • 4 scallops with truffled polenta and roasted fennel // Sep 6, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    […] vegetables (18) ← a trio of pastas […]

  • 5 claudia // Sep 6, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    butta – if you make one i wanna hear all about it…

    shannon – girl, i love you so. and damn you can write… your timing that night was impeccable…

    amy – c’mon down for a visit. we’ll cook up a storm! as for milan, on that trip i was 23 and that was 23 years ago. godalmighty. how can that be? so my milan memories are faint. florence or rome or umbria or the amalfi coast? i can help you there. just lemme know. as for st. louis, i’ve never been. perhaps one day but i kinda need a reason besides a deli… !!!

  • 6 Lannae // Sep 7, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Hi Claudia, thanks for tip on the new Italian Market! I think your guy actually provides the fresh pasta to sell to Corrieri’s on 12th Ave So.

    In relation, how does the Italian Market on 51st Ave N. stack up? the IM has come along way since opening. How does the new market stack up to Corrieri’s?

    Thank you for such a lovely Nashville blog!

  • 7 yveala // Sep 9, 2007 at 7:35 am

    thursday night’s pasta night in my house…can’t wait to try theses!

  • 8 Julie // Sep 10, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I have that book and like it very much. Most of their pastas do a lot with very little.

    I don’t remember seeing the recipe for fresh fettucine with olives and lemon and I don’t know how I missed it because it sounds completely like my kind of meal. I’m going to get my copy out and look up the recipe.

    I also noticed that plum cake recipe in Cook’s Illustrated and I’m glad to hear it was so succesful for you. It’s on my list of things to make.

  • 9 claudia // Sep 11, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    julie – if you can stand all the butter and cream – it is AMAZING. the zest of 2 lemons – diced not grated – and use great olives. very very impressive. i made another from the book today – no butter no cream… also excellent. and the plum cake is just wonderful. perfect recipe in my opinion. the yolky almondy sweetness of the batter with the tart plums offset by some whipped cream… man, it was a week ago and i’m ready again. but NO. no no no…..

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