“Past’ e patane” they say in Naples 🙂
Many times people tell me “you eat pasta so often? it’s not good”, so probably some of them could be shocked to the idea of pairing pasta and potatoes in the same recipe (“carbs with carbs, oh my God!“), especially according to some modern and trendy diets spreading on the web nowadays, but….yes it’s possible 🙂
As I repeated many times, we don’t have to eat something every day of the year but sometimes everything is ok, especially if we are always cooking with passion, with good ingredients and if we are looking for our “stomach happiness” every time we sit at the table and every time we look inside our dish 😀 if then we also might want to have a look at some official statistics we can easily find out that Italy is still in the very top positions for the average life expectancy and for the healthiest people, so probably their diet it’s not so bad during all the 365 days of the year 🙂
“Pasta and potatoes” is one of the most traditional recipes in Naples, clearly it’s a dish of poor origins and, as all the recipes with poor origins which originated from necessity, it’s very tasty 🙂 For sure originally it was made from leftovers of dried pasta, lardo/pork fat (back in time the extra virgin olive oil was mostly available for richer people), tomatoes and potatoes which every poor people had. Plus the “geniality” of making something very enjoyable from the poorest ingredients.
It sounds like a very simple dish, but it’s creamy and incredibly good!
Like many traditional recipes, also this recipe lends itself to many variations.
The use of Parmigiano Reggiano rinds is a relatively “modern” choice, back in time the easiest available choices in that area were probably the rinds of some aged caciocavallo or Pecorino. Choices that you can still make today of course, especially the Pecorino if you want a more intense taste 🙂 Moreover, some people like to add in the end also some scamorza or provolone, to have also a stringy effect. It’s an extra option, but for me it’s already perfect like this.
Tomatoes: someone prefer to use a couple of fresh tomatoes (especially in the good season), someone prefer the triple tomato concentrate. And someone prefer without any tomato. How you want.
And some recipes suggest to use also a small carrot in the soffritto. And if you would like you can use basil rather than parsley.
Last thing: if you remove the lardo/pancetta the recipe is vegetarian and if you remove also the Parmigiano Reggiano rinds then it’s vegan too, but if you use them the recipe is better and much more tasty.
Let’s see the recipe now!
INGREDIENTS (4 people):
- 360 g of mixed pasta (or also one type, small size)
- 700 g of old potatoes (measure the weight after you peeled them)
- 20-30 g lardo (or pancetta or guanciale, a bit more in these cases)
- 1 onion
- 1 or 2 ribs of celery
- 1 clove of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil, about 4-5 tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon of triple tomato concentrate, or 4-5 ripe small tomatoes, in Naples “pomodorini del piennolo” (optional)
- 1 small chili (optional)
- Parmigiano Reggiano rinds, a couple of pieces
- fresh parsley (optional)
- fresh basil leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- First take a cocotte/high pot and heat a generous amount of extra virgine olive oil, then cut the lardo into thin slices and then hit it multiple times with the blade of a thick knife until you obtain a cream, then add it to the hot oil and melt it at medium/low heat. Next to it boil also some water (about 1 liter), we will need it later (or some vegetable broth if you have it).
- Cut the onion and the celery into small pieces and add them to the oil too, and let them simmer at low heat until they are soft (10 minutes about).
- Meanwhile peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes (not too small and not too big, about 2 cm, they must keep some texture), then put them in the cocotte/pot together with the other vegetables.
- Mix all the vegetables together and then pour 1-2 ladles of hot water, then add the Parmigiano Reggiano rinds, the sliced chili, the minced garlic and let it cook at medium heat for 10-15 minutes, then add also the triple tomato concentrate (or the tomatoes) diluted in a ladle of hot water, and some basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper. If the liquid reduces too much while cooking add some hot water.
- After 20-25 minutes (from the moment you added the potatoes) control if the ptatoes are cooked, then you can put the pasta inside. Add more water just enough to cover everything and from now keep stirring regularly until the pasta is cooked (otherwise it will attach on the bottom): indicatively 12-15 minutes, consider that cooking the pasta in a sauce usually takes a bit longer time than boiling it just in water (I used a “Pasta di Gragnano”, slowly dried at low temperatures, and it took about 15 minutes to be ready). During this time the pasta will release extra starch so it will get thicker, so keep adding hot water if it’s needed, personally I like it creamy but not excessively thick.
- When it’s ready let it rest some minutes (too hot it’s not a good idea), then serve it adding fresh parsley, fresh basil, some more freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Buon appetito! 🙂
PS: for an extra touch, a good idea is to add some Provolone in cubes (about 200g) just at the end, you switch off the heat and you stir until melted (like in the first photo below). In this case the Parmigiano rinds are not needed.
Products used in this recipe:
Pasta: mixed pasta from Pastificio Gentile