Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rigatoni Taken Up A Notch

Visiting Iowa City this past weekend was simply fun--full fledged college town with a great downtown area restricted to pedestrians only. Shops, bars, and restaurants are open, people stroll thru the car-free zone and sit in the public square listening to street performers and musicians, sometimes talking with complete strangers. 


We got polled on barriers that limit people from growing their own herbs, vegetables, cooking for themselves, and having access to fresh and organic foods--some folks can't afford it or they simply don't have the space to grow fresh produce or they can't cook. However, if we could change these barriers or teach people to spend more time in the kitchen…small changes could lead to big improvements for our environment, ourselves, our budget, our lives. 

College students living off-campus are at particular risk of limited fruits / veggies and good cooking, because money, time, and skills are limited. Let's change that with a simple pasta recipe for any college-level cooking skill.

Spicy (or not). Flavorful. Cheap. Oddly satisfying with few ingredients. 
Sometimes simple is better!

(Adapted from Saveur Magazine 'Taste of Umbria')

Rigatoni all'Amatriciana 

Equipment:
1 large skillet
1 5-quart sauce pan for boiling water



Ingredients:
2 Tbls olive oil
3-4 slices Pancetta (or bacon), diced / chopped (optional if you want all vegetarian and cheaper)
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 large yellow onion, diced
Kosher salt to taste
1 cup of vegetable broth (or ideally, dry white wine if you are legally 21 years old)
3 (16 oz) cans of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 lb rigatoni, cooked
1/2 cup romano, pecorino, or parmesan cheese, grated




Instructions:
1. Wash your hands.
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and sear pancetta. If using bacon instead, don't add olive oil. Sear until brown and crisp, approx 10 minutes.




3. Add crushed pepper, onion, and salt. 



4. Cook until onion is golden and translucent, approx 10 minutes.
5. Add broth (or wine) and scrape the pan, stirring until liquid almost evaporated.
6. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to simmer, cooking until sauce thickens, approx 40-45 minutes.



8. Boil water and cook pasta until just about done, i.e. 'al dente'.



9. Drain pasta and stir into tomato sauce with 50% of the cheese.



10. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of each serving. I know it looks like just another "tomato-sauce" but it is not! Spicy and flavorful!