tortelli piacentini, butter, fresh fennel seed; arugula



I went down the street to Eataly this afternoon to fetch a good fresh pasta.  We had planned to entertain some friends earlier in the evening, so I knew in advance that there wouldn’t be much time to put together even a modestly ambitious meal. I had a number of ingredients at home which could grace an interesting form of noodle, but not really anything that would stand on its own.

I was delighted to find a very special filled pasta inside the glass display case when I arrived, the Emilia-Romagna tortelli piacentini, an intricately-folded, slightly-braided egg pasta filled with ricotta, mascarpone, chard, grana padano, salt, and pepper.  I asked Luca Donofrio, Eataly’s pastaio, who was working there inside the assembly area, how it should be sauced, and he said it would go well with the region’s classic ragú.  When I demurred at his suggestion (not having the time to cook the sauce, but also, as usual, reluctant to disguise the taste of a good filled pasta), he added that it would also welcome a simple sauce of butter, with perhaps, as I suggested in reply, the addition of some special herb.  That’s how I approached this very special artisanal creation when I got home, adding, in the end, some shaved parmesan.

As the pasta course was to be pretty small in size, I included an antipasto, a classic insalata caprese, and an improvised light green salad on the side.

  • one ripe heirloom tomato from Lani’s Farm, sliced and allowed to sit for almost an hour with some Maldon sea salt sprinkled on top, then layered with some very fresh ‘mozzarella classica’ from Eatlay, a number of leaves of Gotham Greens Brooklyn rooftop basil from Whole Foods, the tomato juices returned to the slices, along with an excellent olive oil, then served with slices of Seven Grain Bread from Eataly
  • twelve ounces of fresh tortelli piacentini from Eataly, sauced with a toss of melted unsalted butter, salt, and pepper, served with freshly-shaved parmesan cheese on top, and scattered with the magic fresh fennel seeds I still had in reserve
  • a salad of arugula from John D Madura Farm, tossed with slices of a small red onion from John D. Madura Farm, good olive oil, a touch of white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and more fresh fennel seeds
  • the wine was an Italian (Sardinia) white, La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna 2013
  • the music was streamed on Q2, and was a part of the station’s 24-hour ‘Her Music’ marathon of  women composers