My preferred brand of pasta is DeCecco. It's what I grew up eating, and as far as dried pasta goes, I think it's the best. I like it mainly because it cooks up al dente like pasta should if you are paying attention, and then retains its toothsomeness instead of turning to mush. In a pinch I will buy Barilla, but for an everyday pasta, my favorite is DeCecco.
The other thing I like about DeCecco pasta are the interesting recipes you find on the back of the boxes. When I saw the recipe for Rigatoni Alla Mondello, a vegetable sauce, I knew I had to try it. I love a tomato-eggplant sauce, especially the way my Italian aunt makes it with crispy-salty pieces of eggplant in a very fresh and flavorful tomato sauce.
This sauce, however, includes zucchini and also curry powder which sounded intriguing. Once cooked it has beautiful Indian flavors, almost like a korma sauce. If you like creamy tomato sauces like the ubiquitous Penne Alla Vodka, and you like spicy flavors, you'll like this.
RIGATONI ALLA MONDELLO
Recipe copied almost verbatim from DeCecco.
Notes: I used campanelle instead of rigatoni. Any short pasta will work. I fried the veggies in olive oil in a cast iron skillet (fill half way up with oil).
- 1 lb DeCecco rigatoni
- 3/4 lb. eggplant, diced
- 3/4 lb. zucchini, diced
- 1 medium sized onion, chopped
- 2 cups pureed tomatoes (I used a can of crushed San Marzanos)
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- Parmesan cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1-2 tbsps. curry powder
- salt (and pepper)
Wash and dice the eggplant. Salt them so that they will lose their bitter taste. Wash and dice the zucchini and deep fry in oil. Drain them and place them on paper towel. Deep fry the eggplant. (Drain on paper towel.) In another large skillet, cook the very finely chopped onion in very little oil until transparent and then add the pureed tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Take off heat and add curry and cream mixing thoroughly.
When the rigatoni are al dente, drain and pour into the skillet with the sauce. Then add the fried eggplant, zucchini, and chopped basil. Mix well over high heat (I used medium) for a few minutes. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on the side. Serves 6.
[photo credit: Stefania Pomponi Butler; white plate from IKEA]