Carlo Fusco is so passionate about pasta that he is a master designer, dreaming up several new shapes each day for the Colavita Pasta Company. I visited him in Vinchiaturo in Molise, a region that is known for its superior dried pasta. It was fascinating to watch the process of how hard wheat semolina flour and water mixed together resulted in some very fancy pasta shapes. One of Carlo's favorites is schiaffoni, meaning "smacks". It is a rather large tubular pasta similar to manicotti shells and is best cooked al forno (baked). If you cannot find this shape, use large manicotti or cannelloni shells. This dish is lip-smackingly good with an unusual asparagus sauce.
1/4 cup grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 pound diced pancetta
1 1/4 pounds asparagus, tough stems removed and stalks cut into thirds
1 cup sliced Portobello mushrooms
1 cup fresh peas
1 cup prepared pesto sauce
2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
1 pound schiaffoni pasta
Extra Virgin olive oil as needed
Fine sea salt as needed
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Sprinkle the cheese into a 9 x 12 x 2-inch-deep casserole dish or use 2 smaller casserole dishes. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan. Stir in the pancetta and cook until it begins to brown. Stir in asparagus and cook until they soften, about 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms give off their liquid. Stir in the peas and the pesto sauce. Keep the sauce warm while the pasta cooks.
Cook the schiaffoni for 5 minutes, drain and place it in single layer in the prepared casserole dish or dishes. Spread the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle the egg over the sauce. Drizzle the top with olive oil. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake it for 15 minutes.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA PRONTO by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2005.
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