Today we’re talking about capers from Pantelleria, tiny but very rich in flavour. But there’s more, we’ll also discover caper berries, caper leaves and the caper production farm that brings Pantelleria’s tradition to the world. Ready to go?
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A pasta format…That is a keeper!
Ziti are a long, smooth, tubular and hollow pasta shape. They have to be broken in half before cooking and legend has it that on Sunday morning, in the alleys of Naples, a careful ear can catch the noise of the ziti pasta breaking.
It is the first quintessential course of wedding banquets as well as a consolation dish for emigrants in distant lands (see The Sopranos), ziti are simply one of the most traditional pasta formats of Campania.
Ziti pasta, a format for brides…
Let’s start from the name, which comes from “zita” or “zito”, which means girlfriend or boyfriend in Neapolitan. Ziti are, in fact, the pasta of lovers, meaning that the preparation begins pre-wedding and ends with the party itself.
A pasta that seals the love, so to speak. Traditionally, the almost-bride prepared the sauce before the ceremony and the first forkful was up to the newlyweds. It was sort of a test of the new bride’s culinary skills, put under examination on the day of her wedding.
…or for the unmarried?
A little less romatic, the second theory on the ziti’s name refers to the “zita” which is the old maid, a lonely woman without a man. Which, in a way, makes perfect sense. Only an old maid, not having a husband to think about, can have the time to prepare the real Neapolitan ziti pasta.
The classic dressing for ziti pasta is, in fact, “Genoese sauce”, a white ragout that has nothing to do with Liguria expect for the name. It takes a long time to make, because the sauce must simmer (or, as they say in Naples, “pippiare”) very slowly to shrink and condense all the flavours. Estimated cooking time: 5 hours minimum.
If we want to keep it light, just season with the sauce, if we want to overdo it then we can also bake them in the oven, with a nice sprinkling of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, mozzarella and a few flakes of butter. Surely not light, but definitely exceptional.
“Pastificio dei Campi”, the true Gragnano pasta
We already talked about the most typical pasta shapes for the greatest traditional recipes and we have seen how ziti pasta and Genoese sauce are inseparably linked.
We are talking about one of the most complex, elaborate and traditional dishes of our country. A great recipe needs an amazing pasta and our choice could only be Gragnano’s.
Pastificio dei Campi is our guarantee for a top quality pasta, bronze-drawn and dried slowly and naturally.
The wheat used is of the most ancient varieties and comes from the Table of the Apulias, where it is grown without the use of glyphosates or chemical fertilizers.
The crops follow the ancient three-year rotation technique to avoid the impoverishment of the soil and ensure ears with high nutritional values. The traceability is total: from the farmer to the packaging, every package of “Pastificio dei Campi” pasta tells its whole story.
Recipes with ziti pasta, between tradition and innovation
We understood that ziti pasta’s quintessential dressing is Genoese sauce, but if you don’t have a day off to think about it there are also less demanding alternatives.
Ziti pasta with seafood
Let’s stay on the Amalfi coast for this sea-flavoured recipe. Mussels, clams and shrimps cannot be missing, but if you find razor clams, squid and cockles they’re great as well.
Ziti pasta with zucchini pesto
A fresh and light version, but especially fast, of the classic ziti pasta. The pesto is prepared in the pasta’s cooking time, but first of all the zucchini are grated with a large-holed grater and then drained in a colander for at least 30 minutes.
Then mix all together with pine nuts, basil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese, a clove of garlic without the core and abundant olive oil.
Blend until you get a smooth and homogeneous consistency and the pesto is ready. Before serving, you can add raw tomato, pine nuts or – even better – some fried zucchini, because it’s ok to stay light but let’s not exaggerate.
Tony Soprano’s baked ziti pasta
A fantastic recipe, not quick nor light to make, but a real masterpiece. Tony, the Sopranos’ householder, loves it!
To prepare this sauce we need beef pulp, sausage, pecorino cheese, fresh and hard-boiled eggs, breadcrumbs, tomato pulp, buffalo mozzarella, then basil, oregano, parsley, wine to blend, salt, pepper and oil.
First of all prepare the meatballs using meat, pecorino cheese, breadcrumbs, fresh eggs and parsley. Once ready, fry them and then put them on a paper towel.
In a pan add oil, garlic and sausage, sprinkle with the wine, add tomato sauce, basil and oregano and let it all simmer (“pippiare”, remember?) well, for at least 40 minutes.
Once the ziti are cooked drain them and proceed to the preparation of the bowl: a layer of tomato sauce, a layer of pasta, meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, mozzarella, pecorino cheese and tomato sauce, then start over with pasta, meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, mozzarella and pecorino cheese, repeat until all the ingredients are finished. Add a sprinkling of pecorino and Parmesan cheese and put in the oven at 200° for 20 minutes.
This blog could be called “tell me how you eat your ziti pasta and I’ll tell you who you are”. Which recipe would you choose? A lighter one with zucchini or a classic with Genoese sauce? A summer-version plate of ziti with seafood or some steamy baked pasta? Or would you risk it all to be like Tony Soprano?
What if I told you that, no matter how you cook them, ziti pasta are always delicious? Because what really matters is to choose an exceptional pasta, the rest is "merely " extra.
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