Ravioli nudi are not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Italian pasta-like dishes. But the small cheesy dumplings, essentially ravioli without the pasta, are a perfect vehicle for enjoying Italian vegetables. The nudi in Domenica Marchetti's new cookbook, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, are just as much leafy green as they are ricotta and Parmesan. She combines big leafy spinach with even bigger leafy swiss chard and the cheese for a grassy, earthy dumpling mixed with a light, delicate touch.
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Dumping green beans in a pot with potatoes and boiling them for 25 minutes, as Domenica Marchetti instructs in The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, sounded like a pretty crazy idea. But I tried it anyway. Once the beans and potatoes were totally tender, I drained them and smashed them up, slowly drizzling in olive oil along the way. Towards the end, I added a pan-ful of crispy pancetta. Somewhere between the first smash and the last, the mushy beans and potatoes transformed into a soft green bowl of creamy comfort food.
Before coming across this lovely plate of Maccheroni alla Chitarra with Ragù Abruzzese and Palottine that graces the cover of Domenica Marchetti's The Glorious Pasta of Italy, I'd always thought that spaghetti and meatballs was strictly checkered tablecloth territory, an Italian-American dish with very distant (if any) ties to Italian cookery. As it turns out, this Italian cousin of our beloved spaghetti and meatballs is quite the popular dish in Abruzzo.
Fresh tomato sauces are wonderful in the summer, but as tomato season heads south for the cooler months, it's always a good idea to have a roasted tomato sauce up your sleeve. A slow roast in the oven takes even the most middling tomatoes to the next level by concentrating all of their great sweet tomato-iness. This plate of Mafaldine with Roasted Tomatoes, Robiola, and Crushed Fennel Seeds from Domenica Marchetti's Bolognese from The Glorious Pasta of Italy takes that roasted tomato sauce to an even more thrilling place by pairing it with some unlikely but incredible partners: fennel seeds and robiola cheese.
Domenica Marchetti's Bolognese from The Glorious Pasta of Italy has its own curious ingredient, mortadella, which makes perfect sense since mortadella comes from Bologna. Marchetti's ragù is pretty genius, rich and meaty with melting diced carrots, onions, and celery and surprisingly little tomato paste. It makes for the perfect sauce for a Lasagna Bolognese, layered with bechamel, or atop a mound of fresh tagliatelle.
Domenica Marchetti finishes these rich little gnocchi by tossing them in an herbed butter and baking them in the oven under a shower of finely shredded Parmigiano. Similar to another autumn pasta, butternut squash ravioli, these carrot gnocchi tread the line between sweet and savory in the best possible way, sweetly carroty and buttery with a welcome hit of salt from the Parmigiano and a brightness from the chopped herbs.
The recipe is a three-parter, beginning with Ragù all'Abruzzese, a slow cooking tomato sauce that's simmered with three types of meat, beef, lamb, and pork that enrich the sauce with all sorts of lovely meaty, fatty notes. The curious thing about this particular ragù is that the meat is removed before serving so that it can be used in another dish such as filling for cannelloni or tortellini.
This BLT Bucatini from Domenica Marchetti's The Glorious Pasta of Italy is another fantastically quick pasta to add to your weeknight dinner artillery. The "B" here is really more like a "P," crisp slices pancetta, the "L" is peppery arugula, and the "T," tomatoes of course, and in this case, sweetly roasted cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil.