Pasta recipe and travel ideas

Jan. 2019 Happy new year to all my family, friends and followers! I hope the new year holds adventure and joy for you.

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I have a recipe to share from the Amalfi Coast. Some of you have traveled there for the exclusive dinner with Gaetano (right) at Tenuta San Francesco. I have a recipe to share for the “broken pasta” dish his wife Eva served us. See below.

And as you plan your 2019 travels, consider joining us for one of these experiences:

  • Siena in the summer. This trip is the crown jewel this year: we’ll see the Palio horse race! Picture yourself on one of the few shaded private balconies watching the parades and pageantry below. And then: a most thrilling horse race! The Kentucky Derby on steroids. No fancy hats required – just a party spirit. Pick a contrada and cheer them on! (This trip is full, but we may repeat in 2020)
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At right: The Campo Square, where the race will take place. 11 horses with jockeys, three laps around the square!

  • Amalfi Coast and Umbria wine country in August or October. Three trips remain in 2019 that include land and sea. We’ll stay in the medieval hilltop village of Orvieto north of Rome and in a charming seaside village on the Amalfi Coast. We’ll visit wineries, dine in a cave, spend a day on the sea in our private boat, tour the immense Pompeii ruins and more.
  • The February and May trips to North Italy are full, but we may repeat them in 2020. We’ll travel coast to coast, from Viareggio to Verona and Venice! 

Local recipe: Pasta e Fagioli (or as Gaetano calls it in Napolitano dialect: pasta fasul)

Directions:

  • 3 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 thin slices of pancetta (or unsmoked bacon) roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each: parsley, oregano and rosemary
  • 4 C beef stock
  • 2/3 C diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz dry pasta (mix of broken pieces, shells, elbows, etc.)
  • Fresh thyme

Place two cans of beans in food processor to puree. Transfer to a bowl and mix in remaining can of beans.

In a deep skillet over medium heat, warm 3 T of olive oil. Add the onion and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, pancetta, parsley, oregano and rosemary, and sauté for another 4 minutes.

Add the remaining 3 T of olive oil, beef stock, tomatoes and the bean mixture and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Cook until pasta is al dente, adding some water if the mixture is too thick.

To serve, ladle the mixture into bowls and drizzle with olive oil and fresh ground pepper; garnish with thyme sprig.

The backstory on “broken pasta”: many years ago when much of Italy was impoverished and they didn’t let anything go to waste (they still don’t), they would make this Pasta and Bean recipe and throw in the last of the pasta bits for added substance. Pieces of shells, elbows, bow-ties, spaghetti. Fast-forward to now, and the traditional dish perseveres: you can buy a mix of broken pasta in the store – or make your own. I made this dish last night, and it tasted just like Eva’s. Success!

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The Unicorn contrada, parading through the streets of Siena.
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Our private boat, off the island of Capri.

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