batali bastardized – but better?

February 20th, 2009 · 31 Comments

as i’ve been going on and on about – ad nauseam, i’m 5 weeks into a pretty serious diet shift. but in the name of sanity and well, umm, cosmc fairness i felt the need to make my own pasta. so the other day i ate lightly, preparing for a higher calorie dinner – and then yesterday i really watched the calories, keeping my average daily intake to where it needed to be. was i hungry? a little. did i live? well, here i am to tell the tale…

my daughter is 27. and although we met when she was already 12, i made it a point to raise her on very good quality food. i baked all our bread, made all our pizzas, cookies, cakes – and shopped almost exclusively at the local health food market. it mattered to me that she would grow up knowing the difference between what i considered to be good food – and what was readily available to a teenager in nashville. so these days, when she shows up at the house i love nothing more than to cook her the food she craves, dishes she’d never make for herself. also now that there’s a 6 year old in tow, i really enjoy having the opportunity to turn my sweet boy on to new taste sensations and hear him exclaim "wow, grand claud – i really like this!".

but i’ve been being careful. oh so painfully careful. making the right choices. keeping it lean. counting. weighing. doing the weight loss math. but here’s the deal. because we all have our limits, right? diet or no diet. there will be pasta. and the only thing better than pasta is homemade pasta. and my girl is a pasta fiend. really she’s a fool for gnocchi… and i need to get on that. but pasta always makes her very happy which in turn satisfies me to no end. see? pasta. it’s the quintessential win/win. of this i am quite sure.

the italian dish had written about a batali pasta that she’d made not long ago, and after lusting after it i filed it away in my non existent memory and promptly forgot all about it. but a few days ago when flipping through the ‘babbo cookbook’ for ideas, my eyes fell upon a recipe that immediately appealed to me and also seemed vaguely familiar. sure enough it was that very same one. destiny at play, no doubt. so i caught a ride to the market (still carless) and bought parsnips. i also managed to lay my hands on some marigold yolked farm fresh eggs and i defrosted the hunk of pancetta that tom from lazzaroli’s had sold me a few months back.

the recipe called for black pepper pasta and with all my pasta making to date, i’ve yet to add in anything to the flour besides some eggs and a touch of oil and water. i used mostly 00 flour and added about 20% semolina bringing it to about 4 cups of flour total. this batch took 4 eggs, 2 yolks, about a teaspoon or so of olive oil and maybe 2 tablespoons of water. i barely measured anything and well, it came out wonderfully. the miracle of pasta making never ceases to amaze me. the next time i will be sure and grind the pepper finer as i noticed the pasta tore in a few places from the bigger pieces of peppercorn dragging through the roller. while the pasta strips dried out a bit, i decided instead of making fettuccine with my cutters, i’d just roughly cut the pasta into thick rectangular strips. i’ve no idea the exact name for this shape but it’s like a maltagliati.

the pancetta gets browned and then removed from the pan. in goes about one tablespoon of butter and two of olive oil. the 4 parsnips were peeled and chopped into coins and browned until crisp, next went the leeks. i used 3, sliced into quarters and when wilted and a bit caramelized, i added some salt, deglazed the pan with an italian red and in went chopped parsley and the pancetta. the pasta was drained and added to the pan along with about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. finito. serve with grated parmegiano.

the red wine was kind of a no-brainer. i can’t imagine mario not wanting you to deglaze that pan – but well, he didn’t mention it and i just had to. after all, i had just fried a BACONlike substance in that pan which is a rarity around here so there was no way i wasn’t going to get all that flavor back. really mario. wtf?

and the leeks were an afterthought. i had bought them for no particular reason and when grabbing the parsnips from the refrigerator, i thought it all made sense. and for those of you suspicious about parsnips (and yes, lauren – i am looking at you, honey) it’s high time you saw this vegetable as versatile. it’s delicious. and nutritious. any other applicable words ending in -cious, please let me know.

but hey… dear readers, i just needed to bring attention to my batali guilt. after all, i defiled his recipe. certain chefs have no real impact on me. i’ll substitute. i’ll mess with the best. but mario is brilliant. mario is in my top five. and i overrode his good judgment without any second thought,

my god. what have i become?


Tags: bacon · pasta · vegetables

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jim voorhies // Feb 20, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    any diet that excludes pasta is obviously evil. :)

    and how could adding wine be bad either?

  • 2 Rachel (S[d]OC) // Feb 20, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Dont’ feel guilty. I never met a recipe I couldn’t bastardize. It’s rare I leave a recipe intact. We are all victims of our personal likes and dislikes and what we have immediately available to us when we cook.

    The dish looks wonderful. It’s rustic and hearty and seems utterly heartwearing on a winter night.

    YOu are also a great mom to do all of that cooking for a child growing up.

  • 3 Robert // Feb 20, 2009 at 1:41 pm


    Hunger weighs on the mind, and after a while, well anything is possible………

  • 4 lisaiscooking // Feb 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I’ve never had parsnips in pasta, but now I want to, and I’m so telling Mario what you did.

  • 5 cookiecrumb // Feb 20, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Very nice that you’re comfortable making your pasta by eye, by feel, by memory. If I made pasta any more often than once every 15 years, I might develop that sense. :(

  • 6 Topics about Health, Food and Well being » Archive » batali bastardized - but better? // Feb 20, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    [...] jillosophy added an interesting post on batali bastardized – but better?Here’s a small excerpt…i baked all our bread, made all our pizzas, cookies, cakes – and shopped almost exclusively at the local Bhealth/B food market. [...]

  • 7 Rhonda // Feb 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Claudia, this looks gorgeous.

    I am sure Mario will be proud. Mario IS brilliant but sometimes you do need to over-ride “Mario’s judgement”. Case in point, the whole freakin’ disgusting journey he took us on through Spain with a bulemic actress. And on PBS no less! If anyone should feel guilty, he should.

    I am sure the Spain project seemed like a good idea during dinner when this soon to be still birth was concepted. However, Ms. Paltrow was able to excuse herself and throw up immediately after dinner. We were dragged along for weeks.

    You should be proud. You used great judgement!

  • 8 krysta // Feb 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    my stomch is growling right now, that is some seriously good stuff and well worth the calories if i do say so.

    and i love the glimpse into your family life. i can imagine you making sure anybody you have came into contact with would eat good food ’cause you raised or taught them right.

  • 9 Donald // Feb 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Pasta is indeed very, very, good, but pasta with BACON is better. Hey, you’re eating well, bacon is a vegetable remember?

    You know I made black pepper pappardelle with prosciutto, pancetta, peas, and leeks recently and, man, it was good. So I KNOW this was fantabulous!

  • 10 Heather // Feb 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    That looks like pappardelle to me (my favorite pasta shape). Black pepper pasta made me cream my jeans.

    I need to score some porcini (or other steaky mushrooms) and whip this up, stat.

  • 11 Weight Loss » Blog Archive » batali bastardized - but better? // Feb 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    [...] Original post by cook eat FRET [...]

  • 12 Kristie // Feb 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Hell! Even I like parsnip, and I don’t like much of anything vaguely healthful. Although I’ve got a strange fondness for raw cabbage. And crisp-cooked carrots. Parsnip is just a carrot that caught afoul of a vampire, ya know.

    Looks delicious, and seriously congratulations on your commitment. I’ve been maintaining just fine, but now that I know I have only 2 months til the wedding, and I need to trim down about 4% body fat for my beach vacation, all of a sudden I’m super-hungry. My body is comprised mostly of spite, apparently occasionally directed at myself. Suck.

  • 13 Peter // Feb 20, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I have yet to meet a recipe that I did not defile in one way or another. That’s what they’re for. Are you seriously worried about incurring the wrath of a giant smug leprechaun in shorts and orange crocs?

  • 14 batali bastardized - but better? | Be On Diet - Ultimate dieting blog // Feb 20, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    [...] Read more:† batali bastardized – but better? [...]

  • 15 Lauren // Feb 20, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    parsnips are my new best friend.
    i gotta say, leeks are in my short list of foods i’m not cool with- so i was skeptical. however, they really added to the flavor and weren’t at all gritty. the dish was amazing. it was hearty, flavorful, and i won’t use the y word- but it was. thanks for dinner.

  • 16 Reeni // Feb 20, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    It’s hard for me to stick to any recipe as is. This looks positively delicious! What a comforting dish to make for your daughter and grandson!

  • 17 The Italian Dish // Feb 21, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Hey – I think your additions of leeks and red wine sound seriously good. Recipes are meant to be tweaked. And I’m so glad you treated yourself to some homemade pasta…rolling out the dough just does a soul good. You deserve some. It looks great.

  • 18 democommie // Feb 21, 2009 at 3:00 pm


    You must remember that a recipe is like a painting lesson or a musical score–it’s meant to be improvised when the demand arises. Unless, of course, that would mean using brown’n’serve sausages in place of the pancetta. Some sacrileges are more sacrilegous than others.

    I don’t care what that pasta is called, I want some!

  • 19 Melissa // Feb 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Malicious? Ambitious? Those don’t really fit. But they are great. We just tried them a few week ago for the first time and were very pleasantly surprised.

    *Dying at Peter’s description of Mario*

    I’m jealous of your daughter. And not just because you make her pasta. :)

    I’m glad you got to make this lovely meal in the midst of your current regimen.

  • 20 we are never full // Feb 21, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    mario is awesome but, as you already know, i need to have brain surgury to forget about that horrendous show “spain, on the road again” that he did. i must, must, must forget i ever saw it. b/c that show makes me hate him, despise him. i don’t want to hate him… i love him as a chef but that show makes me not even care about his cooking skills.

    let’s forget about all that. it’s nice to see this dish on your blog. it’s homey and warming and looks pretty damn delicious.

    and peter’s right – he is like a leprachaun in orange shoes.

  • 21 Brittany // Feb 21, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I would say that I follow a recipe to the letter about 12% of the time.

    I have the best intentions going in, but always end up rebelling .

    I don’t think Mario would mind…

  • 22 democommie // Feb 22, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Wow, I guess I should be glad I don’t got no teevee. I allus liked Mario (he’s just enough of a slob to take the edge off being too smart) and I love Gwyneth as an actress. Don’t know squat about either of them outside of their professional persona, but, just WOW!

    Speaking of recipes. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred cookbooks. Back in the days before the internet tubes became like coathangers in the closet (multiplying exponentially while we weren’t looking) I spent several hours looking for ONE chocolate cake recipe that didn’t call for some ingredient or technique I wasn’t interested in. After those hours I made a white cake with a bunch of cocoa and some melted chocolate in it. Somehow, it worked! I would not recommend trying the reverse process, I don’t think that will work.

  • 23 Jack // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Hey if you are planning to stray away from the grind for a meal, that pasta looks like a great choice. Iíll bet the black pepper would be good added to dumplings.

  • 24 Abby @ mangerlaville // Feb 23, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    The guilt you speak of is only because you made a kick ass recipe. Sounds delicious.

  • 25 The Culinary Sherpas // Feb 24, 2009 at 8:38 am

    We so need to get the pasta attachment for the Kitchen Aid. Damn, fresh pasta.

  • 26 Becky and the Beanstock // Feb 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    “Diet or no diet, there will be pasta!” Now that sounds like a motto to live by. I loved the post — love the autobiographical tidbits that come up ever so rarely in your writing. And even though I don’t eat pancetta, I love the dish. It’s gorgeous and something to wonder about, longingly.

  • 27 lo // Feb 25, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    You’ve outdone yourself here, my dear. This was not only a great post — but that pasta. AH! Fantastico!

  • 28 Brooke // Feb 25, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    I’m sure you did Mario proud. He’s cool like that.

    I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never tried making my own pasta. It looks like so much fun, I need to get my ass in gear. Looks delicious.

    Oh, and leeks. Luscious. There’s your word.

  • 29 Bellini Valli // Feb 26, 2009 at 5:02 am

    This dish sounds amazing. Loving the peppery pasta:D

  • 30 Samantha // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    You amaze me! This pasta dish is a great idea and I really think that MB would give you the big orange thumbs up. GREAT job and I only wish that I had a big bowl of that right now!!!

  • 31 zenchef // Mar 11, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    You’re cheating on Mario?
    You’ve been a bad bad girl. lol.

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