Creating the Busiate
Yesterday evening, I was joined by three delightful young women, Jen, Nicole, and Kelly for a cooking class. Our mission, to create the Sicilian spiral pasta known as ‘Busiate”. These young women have known each other for many years and have shared many of lifes triumphs and tribulations. Now, each of them balance their careers with motherhood, leaving little time to renew and refresh their spirit.Therefore, I was so pleased that they chose to treat themselves to a “girls night out” at The Roman Table! Tonight, as they delighted in sharing stories about their young daughters, their senses were embraced by the angelic voice of Andreas Bocelli, the texture of the pasta dough in their hands, and the flavors and aromas of fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil. I explained the simplicity of this dish that hails from the Trapani province in northwest Sicily. It is said that the dish originated from pesto alla Genovese that was brought by merchants passing through port of Trapani. Sicilians have adapted the idea, using their local ingredients, almonds instead of pine nuts and tomatoes of course: making a dish full of fresh and nutty flavors that became a staple of Trapani area cuisine and today can be found in almost every restaurant. Busiate, the pasta used in this dish, is made from Durum Wheat Flour with water (no eggs) and twisted around its angle resembling a spiral. This joyful pasta is very specific to Trapani area. My guests found the spiral making process very ‘relaxing”. You can see how beautiful the sculptures spirals look adorning this platter. Rosetta, my Sicilian teacher, would be proud!
Recipe for Busiate
1 pound of Durham Wheat Semolina Flour, 8 ounces of hot water ( more as needed)
Form a “mountain” of flour with a hole on the top. Gradually pour hot water into the hole and work your fingers into the dough mixture folding the dough into the water. Continue to add water until all dough is incorporated. The dough should not be wet. Knead vigorously, form a ball and cover with a cloth. Let sit for 20 minutes. Tear a small piece ( the size of an egg) of dough from the ball. Couple between your hands and roll to form a thin cylinder of dough, not exceeding approximately 4 inches in length. Take a bamboo skewer and beginning at the middle of the skewer begin rolling the dough cylinder up the bamboo skewer, forming a spiral cylinder. You now have your first Busiate! Bella! Remove and continue making enough spirals for your dinner. When ready to cook, add to boiling salted water and cook for two minutes.
Joyful Spirals of Pasta
Pesto alla Trapanese
5 Cups of Basil leaves, 4 Garlic cloves, 1/4 Cup peeled, raw Almonds, 2/3 Cup fresh tomatoes (I used the small grape tomatoes & cut them in half), 1/4 Cup of fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used Roman Table Basil EVOO).
Using a food processor, start with the basil, garlic, & almonds. Turn on and gradually add the oil in a stream. Add the cheese and continue to stream oil. Finally add the halved tomatoes and process a short time, leaving the tomatoes a little chunky. Season with salt & pepper. This pesto is generally serves cold on hot pasta and is also good for Bruschetta as well.
Fennel & Orange Salad
1 Fennel Bulb, 2 Naval Oranges, 1/4 Cup of Dried Sweet Cranberries, 1/4 Cup of Roman Table Blood Orange EVOO, 1/4 Cup of Red Wine Vinegar, handful of copped Pistachio Nuts.
Using a Mandolin, shave the Fennel Bulb into a bowl, cut the orange in segments and then in half. I do this portion a couple of hours in advance allowing the juices from the Orange to meld into the Fennel. Whisk together the EVOO and Vinegar and pour on the Fennel/ Orange mixture. Toss the Pistachio on top before serving.
A Taste of Sicily