Tastes of the Med: Tortiglioni al pachino


Like most, we love pasta. It’s a mainstay on the menu, one day of the week is reserved just for pasta. Since we also really enjoy grilling, we were challenged: How do we combine the two? Grilled pasta? No, it still needs to be boiled but we discovered that you can easily wood grill the ingredients to maximize flavors of the sauce. There’s hardly any cooking done in the kitchen (except for boiling the water ) when you utilize the grill, so it’s as easy as dressing a salad. Yes, that easy.

The caveat to all of this is the kind of sauce you will be serving. Sometimes you want a beautiful ragù, that sauce from Emilia-Romagna more commonly known as alla bolognese. But that’s altogether impractical for a mid-week supper when you’ve had a long day of work and you’re still an hour away from sitting down for dinner. Who’s going to do that? Just fire up the grill and boil the water. As long as you have something fresh that’s ready for the grill, you can make a simple yet satisfying pasta that doesn’t make you feel like a wet noodle when it’s all said and done.

Whenever pasta is on the menu, it’s about the same effort to boil twice the water in a big pot and make two or three different sauces to dress the pasta. This is an Italian tradition called Bis o Tris and it’s something we like to do here at Cerines. For our family of six we like to make two different kinds of pasta, using a standard measurement of 500 g (1.1 lbs) for each. Choose a short pasta (penne, rigatoni) for sauces with lots of texture and long pasta (spaghetti, linguine) for smoother sauces. We definitely will have leftovers that the boys can nosh on as a snack later on.

On this week’s menu, we’ve chosen two family favorites for our Bis: tortiglioni al pachino and spaghetti ai gamberi. These are two easy recipes in which the base is warmed and then the grilled food is tossed through, much like a salad.

This is a great dish to make whenever you can find slightly overripe grape or cherry tomatoes. End of the season tomatoes are less flavorful than those picked at the height of the summer season, so grilling them enhances their flavor enough that they might as well have been harvested mid-summer.

Tortiglioni al pachino

serves 6

Fill the grilling basket with:
pachino or grape tomatoes, large enough so they do not slip between the slats in the basket.

Cook over wood coals for exactly 20 minutes, just until the skins have popped and have developed a touch of color.

Meanwhile, In a large stock pot bring to a boil:
6 liters of water

2 tsp coarse salt

500 g (1.1 lbs) tortiglioni (or your favorite short pasta)

Cook the pasta, strictly adhering to the manufacturer’s directions.

In your serving bowl, add:
250 g (8,8 oz.) fresh ricotta

Add by ladles until creamy:
pasta water

Season with:
crushed coarse sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Remove pasta from the boiling water at the precise time indicated. Reserve a cup of pasta water in a heat-proof glass measure. Drain pasta quickly but not thoroughly and immediately turn into the pasta bowl.  Add in the grilled tomatoes. Toss thoroughly so that the sauce is evenly distributed. Allow to cool slightly and add:
a handful of fresh basil leaves

Serve immediately with a grating of pecorino romano. Add in small amounts the reserved pasta water to unify the sauce with the pasta, if necessary.

Tips for using the myGrill™ Chef SMART:
•Use the baskets of the myGrill™ Chef SMART grill for best results. The slow rotation of the grill will aid in even cooking.
•Use the Auto function and choose “Vegetables”. (If cooking shrimp or other fish along with the tomatoes as seen in the image above, choose “Fish”). Cook for 20 minutes. The shrimp should turn pink and then to an orange color.
•The variable of the quality of the wood coals used to grill the foods must be taken into account when cooking. Rely on the temperature guide on the computer. If the temperature is too low, add more pre-heated coal.
•When you’re cooking over wood coals, just when you think it needs a couple more minutes, take it off. At high temperatures, food continues to cook even after it comes off the grill.

The recipe for spaghetti ai gamberi will be available on Tuesday, 14 October 2014.