Award-winning chef Marc Vetri wanted to write his first book about pasta. Instead, he wrote two other acclaimed cookbooks and continued researching pasta for ten more years. Now, the respected master of Italian cuisine finally shares his vast knowledge of pasta, gnocchi, and risotto in this inspiring, informative primer featuring expert tips and techniques, and more than 100 recipes.
Vetri’s personal stories of travel and culinary discovery in Italy appear alongside his easy-to-follow, detailed explanations of how to make and enjoy fresh handmade pasta. Whether you’re a home cook or a professional, you’ll learn how to make more than thirty different types of pasta dough, from versatile egg yolk dough, to extruded semolina dough, to a variety of flavored pastas—and form them into shapes both familiar and unique. In dishes ranging from classic to innovative, Vetri shares his coveted recipes for stuffed pastas, baked pastas, and pasta sauces. He also shows you how to make light-as-air gnocchi and the perfect dish of risotto.
Loaded with useful information, including the best way to cook and sauce pasta, suggestions for substituting pasta shapes, and advance preparation and storage notes, Mastering Pasta offers you all of the wisdom of a pro. For cooks who want to take their knowledge to the next level, Vetri delves deep into the science of various types of flour to explain pasta’s uniquely satisfying texture and how to craft the very best pasta by hand or with a machine. Mastering Pasta is the definitive work on the subject and the only book you will ever need to serve outstanding pasta dishes in your own kitchen.
Marc Vetri signs copies of Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto at Omnivore Books on Food on Monday, April 13 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Free.
Reprinted with permission from Mastering Pasta by Marc Vetri, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. All photography by Ed Anderson, copyright © 2015. You can buy an autographed copy of Mastering Pasta at Omnivore. We urge you to support your local bookstore. They can order it for you if not in stock. Otherwise you can purchase through our affiliate links with Amazon and IndieBound.
FETTUCCINE WITH CORN CREMA AND CHARRED GREEN ONIONS
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Every summer in July, this dish goes on the menu at Amis, and it stays on until we get the last of the sweet corn in the fall. Fresh corn with charred green onions is one of those combinations that should be up there with tomatoes and basil. The sweet freshness of the corn and slight bitterness of the green onions make an awesome contrast. The creamy corn puree and the delicate chew of the green onions are another delicious contrast. This dish has a great look, too, with bright green on bright yellow.
Pasta Swap: Any thick noodle works well here. Try pappardelle or corzetti.
- 1 pound (454 g) Egg Yolk Dough (see page 26 of Mastering Pasta), rolled into sheets about 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) thick
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (21 g) finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels cut from cobs
- ¼ cup (60 ml) water
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 small green onions, trimmed
- 1 chunk ricotta salata cheese, for grating (optional)
Lay a pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface and trim the edges square. Cut the sheet into 9-inch (23-cm) lengths. Fit your stand mixer or pasta machine with the fettuccine cutter and set it to medium speed. Feed 1 length of dough
at a time through the cutter, dusting the dough lightly with flour as it is cut into strands. Coil the fettuccine into nests and set them on a floured rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Use the fettuccine immediately or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Take the pasta right from the freezer to the boiling pasta water.
Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add the yellow onion and sweat it until it is soft but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add all but ¼ cup (40 g) of the corn kernels and the water. Simmer the corn gently until it is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste the mixture, adding salt and pepper until it tastes good to you. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it is smoking hot. Add the green onions and cook, turning once, until charred on two sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the onions to a cutting board, and chop finely. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil. When the oil is hot, add the reserved ¼ cup (40 g) corn kernels and the chopped green onions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then stir in the corn crema. Keep warm over very low heat.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the fettuccine and cover the pot to quickly return the water to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender but still a little chewy, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a spider strainer or tongs, drain the pasta by transferring it to the pan of sauce. Reserve the pasta water.
Add about ½ cup (118 ml) of the pasta water and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, tossing and stirring vigorously until the sauce reduces slightly, becomes very creamy, and coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Keep the pasta moving until pasta and sauce become one thing in the pan, adding a little more pasta water if necessary to create a creamy sauce. Taste it, adding salt and pepper until it tastes good to you.
Dish out the pasta onto warmed plates and grate the ricotta salata over the top.
SQUID INK LINGUINE WITH UNI AND CRAB
Makes 3 or 4 servings
Uni (sea urchin) has an incredible texture. It makes a creamy sauce and almost behaves like fat in a dish, even though it’s actually pretty low in fat. But you have to be careful: as with fat, too much is not a good thing. Look for West Coast uni; it’s bigger and creamier than East Coast uni.
Pasta Swap: Spaghetti or bucatini would be good, but keep it flavored with squid ink. The black pasta and orange sauce help make this dish what it is.
- 12 ounces (340 g) Squid Ink
- Semolina Dough (see page 121 of Mastering Pasta) Semolina, for dusting
- 16 pieces cleaned uni (about 10 oz/283 g or ¾ cup)
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil
- 3 tablespoons (28 g) peeled and minced carrot
- 3 tablespoons (20 g) minced celery
- 3 tablespoons (32 g) minced yellow onion
- 3 ounces (85 g) jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over to remove any shells and cartilage
- 2 tablespoons (6 g) chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fit your pasta extruder or stand-mixer attachment with the linguine plate. Set the extruder to medium speed; if using a stand-mixer attachment, feed the dough into the extruder in marble-size clumps, using a pushing tool to push the clumps through the extruder. The first few clumps may come out uneven; just throw them away. Continue gradually dropping marble-size clumps into the extruder and pushing them through, being careful not to overload it. As the pasta is extruded, cut it into 9-inch (23-cm) lengths and immediately dust it with semolina to prevent sticking.
Dry the pasta by placing it on wire racks that will fit in your refrigerator and refrigerate it uncovered for at least 8 hours or up to 4 days. The pasta will get drier and harder as it sits. The texture is perfect after 2 days in the refrigerator.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the linguine and cover the pot to quickly return the water to a boil. Cook until the pasta is tender yet firm, 4 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, mash the uni in a mortar with a pestle or process in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Heat the oil in a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrot, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 seconds.
Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon, drain the pasta by transferring it to the pan. Reserve the pasta water. Add the uni, crabmeat, chives, lemon juice, and ½ cup (118 ml) of the pasta water to the pan and toss and stir until the sauce reduces slightly, gets creamy, and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Keep the pasta moving until pasta and sauce become one thing in the pan. Taste it, adding salt and pepper until it tastes good to you.
Dish out the pasta onto warmed plates.
Trained in Bergamo, Italy, by some of the region’s most noted chefs, Marc Vetri is the chef/owner of Vetri Ristorante, Osteria, Amis, and the forthcoming Alla Spina, all located in Philadelphia. Vetri was named one of Food & Wine’s Ten Best New Chefs and received the Philadelphia Inquirer’s highest restaurant rating; he also won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. Vetri has been profiled in Gourmet, Bon Appétit, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Times. Visit his restaurants online at: www.vetrifamily.com.
David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than thirty-five cookbooks, including the IACP award-winning The Food Substitutions Bible and the New York Times bestsellers A Man, a Can, a Grill: 50 No-Sweat Meals You Can Fire Up Fast and Mastering the Grill, co-authored with Andrew Schloss. He lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Visit David at: www.davejoachim.com.