Frances Mayes is known for transporting readers to the charming Italian countryside in her bestselling books. In Pasta Veloce, Mayes and veteran food editor Susan Wyler take us there us by sharing 100 under 30-minute pasta recipes, inspired by their time in Italy. These well-loved recipes blend traditional Italian technique with magic from the Mayes and Wyler home kitchens where experiments are always in progress.
Pasta is the most versatile food on earth. And if you do it right: fast! Pasta Veloce offers a multitude of under 30-minute, luscious recipes, all accompanied by Mayes’s evocative text. While there are numerous pasta cookbooks, few feature a true Italophile’s passion and eye for detail that can get a dish to the table in, as Mayes describes, “the time it takes to boil water.” From a Tagliatelle with Duck Confit, Chestnuts, and Coffee Reduction to a glittering Capellini with Golden Caviar to the perfect vodka sauce, Pasta Veloce is your guide on those nights when you’re ready to skip the whole production of it but still want to eat like royalty in a rustic Italian village.
Pasta Veloce: Irresistibly Fast Recipes from Under the Tuscan Sun by
Farfalle with Ham, Mushrooms, and Peas in Creamy Fontina Sauce
Mild and creamy, this pasta is comfort food. Semi-soft, young Fontina cheese melts beautifully to create the smooth sauce. The best Fontina comes from Val d’Aosta in the overwhelmingly beautiful northwest mountains, one of the best summer hiking and winter sports areas in Italy. In dreamy Cogne, cozy village restaurant Brasserie du Bon Bec serves melted Fontina with squares of polenta to dip. While Italian Fontina has a distinctive nutty taste, it is sometimes hard to come by. The internet to the rescue! Domestic Fontina, made with pasteurized milk, is pleasing, but quite mild. A bit of added Parmigiano punches up the flavour.
SERVES 4 TO 5
10 ounces (280 g) farfalle
1 cup (8 ounces/225 g) frozen baby peas
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ teaspoons potato starch, or cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
3 ounces (85 g) Fontina cheese, shredded (about ¾ cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, chopped
8 ounces (225 g) white button or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, thickly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
8 ounces (225 g) flavourful ham, cubed
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the farfalle until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Place the frozen peas in a large colander; rinse briefly to break up any clumps.
Meanwhile, in a heavy medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, nutmeg, and cayenne. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom often. As soon as bubbles appear around the edges, reduce the heat to medium-low. Gradually whisk in the dissolved potato starch and simmer, whisking, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the Fontina, stirring until it melts. Season with salt and black pepper. Set the cheese sauce aside, covered to keep warm.
In a large deep skillet, sauté the shallot and mushrooms in the olive oil over high heat, stirring and tossing often, until the mushrooms start to give up their liquid and are just beginning to color, about 3 minutes. Season with the lemon juice, salt, and a generous grind of black pepper. Add the ham, remove from the heat, and cover to keep warm.
When the farfalle is al dente, drain into the colander right over the peas. Add the pasta and peas and the cheese sauce to the skillet. Sprinkle on the Parmigiano and toss to mix everything together.
Recipe reprinted with permission from ABRAMS.