A Penne Peppered
With Pavarotti Recipe, photographs and video by Tom Weber
Have you ever glanced across the room in a restaurant
and seen someone at another table engrossed in a business lunch? The
poor frontline employee is talking frantically on an iPhone with someone
back at the office while simultaneously crunching sales projections
on an iPad as his/her regional manager, waiting impatiently, strums
his/her fingers on the table and remarks, "Well?"
Non è una problema per me (It's not a
problem for me). Today, I'm throwing away the gadgets and having lunch,
virtually, with the late, great tenor-of-all-tenors, Luciano Pavarotti.
"The King of the High C's" and I have all the time in the
world, just like the length of one his operas.
In between arias, we'll lunch on a simple concoction
I've whipped up in the kitchen many times before.
It's a quick-'n'-easy, Lazy Person's pasta recipe featuring
penne rigate (cylinder shaped, furrowed "quills"),
grilled peperoni (bell peppers) and a handful of Greek black olives,
or: Penne con Peperoni e Olive Nero. For lunch, it's one of my
favorite go-to dishes and plates in less than 30 min., OR YOU DON'T
PAY. Not bad for "slow food."
Italian "semipro" enjoying her plate of
More often than not, Italians - of ALL ages -- enjoy
a plate of pasta at pranzo (lunch) vice cena (dinner).
Admittedly, pasta, in all its variety, is one of the heavier dishes
of la cucina Italiana and best served as part of the midday meal.
Whenever I wing it in the galley, I always have music
playing in the background, appropriate for the dish I'm attempting to
create or recreate, to keep me focused and in the right mood.
I love the sound of musica classica, and it marries
well with the Italian fare that I routinely and miraculously whip
With "The Maestro" in the house, I thought
it appropriate to go with one of his all-time hits, Mattinata,
written by Ruggero Leoncavallo way back in 1904 and one of the 26 songs
that made it into the Pavarotti's Greatest Hits CD.
If you'll cue it up on the turntable, I mean the iPhone,
and raise the volume to the heavens, we'll get this culinary aria underway.
Step-1: Fill a medium-size pot with water, cover,
set the burner to HIGH and bring to a boil.
Step-2: Cut the pre-packaged roasted peppers
and black olives, and peel, quarter and flatten out the cloves of garlic.
Step-3: Pour the olive oil into a skillet rotating
it around until the pan is completely coated. Set the burner on MEDIUM
heat and warm the oil for no more than one min. DO NOT BURN THE OIL.
Step-4: When the olive oil heats up, introduce
the garlic (or garlic powder) and stir. Once the garlic cloves turn
paper-bag brown, turn the burner off and remove them from the skillet
Step-5: Weigh the pasta to ensure you have the
right amount (100g x person).
Step-6: The medium pot of water is now boiling.
Remove the lid and add the sea salt.
Step-7: Drop the dried penne into the
boiling water, stir vigorously for about 15 sec. to keep the pieces
separated. Set the timer for 9 minutes and let the pasta cook on its
Note: Cooking time for the penne rigate
(size n. 73) is 11 min., but we'll subtract 1 min. and use that time
to quickly sauté the pasta in the sauce at the very end just
before plating to ensure the dish is al dente.
Step-8: While the penne cook, return the
skillet to the burner and place on MEDIUM heat. Fold in the roasted
pepper and black olives, the optional crushed hot red pepper flakes,
and 2 tablespoons of the boiling, salty pasta water and stir for 2 min.
Turn the burner down to LOW and keep the sauce going until the penne
Step-9: The timer rings at the 10-min. mark.
The pasta is done. Turn off the burner. Drain the penne in a
colander and shake off the excess water.
Step-10: Throw the penne down into the
skillet where the sauce has remained warm. Raise the burner to MEDIUM
heat and sauté quickly for about 30-sec., or until all the "quills"
are bathed in the sauce.
Step-11: Turn the burner off. Plate the penne.
Serve with crunchy, artisan black olive bread.
Made from a blend of Tai (f.n.a. Tocai, 55%) and Sauvignon
(45%), this refreshing vino is straw-yellow in color. Intensely aromatic,
it pours forth with refreshing notes of ripe tropical fruit, citrus
and freshly cut grass.
Dry and well-rounded on the palate, Bidibi IGT
has a vibrant acidity with a pleasant and persistent finish. It stands
on its own as a true ombra (regional dialect for aperitif), and
marries well with soups, first courses including the above recipe
and light fish dishes.
Best served chilled at 10°C. Cin cin!
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Haven't been called Tad for . . .gee, maybe I've NEVER been
called Tad . . . guess I'm the only one with chutzpah enough to mention Bourdain.
--- Ken, Shutesbury, MA
I think we must have had an entirely different experience in
the UK. (Fresh Food and Real Ale week 1). We were up in Edinburgh and
they served something called Neeps & Tatties. The items were
boiled so long that I couldnt even recognize what I was eating. Come to
think of it I couldnt taste them either. Later I found that Neeps
are Turnips and Tatties are potatoes.
--- Lindy, Phoenix, AZ
My mouth was watering as I read some of your descriptions of
the fantastic fare of ... England? I had always felt smug about the lowly reputation
of British cuisine as this gave us at least one country with a worse culinary
reputation than America's. I guess I'll have to change my views. Your article
made me actually want to take a CULINARY tour of Britain. Yummy yummy yummy.
--- Sandy Miner, Portland, OR
Thanks for your note. Thanks to Traveling
Boy I get to interview a world famous chef this week who is widely recognized
as spearheading the Yummy movement in Ireland. Guess I'll have to take yet another
culinary tour a little further north and check it out... (I love my job!) ---
Very interesting, mouth-watering piece by Audrey! (A McDreamy McMeel). Your
web site is fascinating!
--- Susie, Victoria, BC
Combining travel, food, and intelligent advice -- BRILLIANT!
Your site fills a long-felt need for hungry roamers. Keep it up! It's Anthony
Bourdain with reservations and CLASS.