Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
Maltagliati means badly cut, referring to randomly cut to soups. This conjures up visions of rustic charm but when I make them, I give them an element of elegance by adding pureed yellow beets to the dough, resulting in sunny, golden-hued pasta. The more common red beet can be substituted if yellow ones are not available.
The sauce, a combination of roasted carrots and shallots, adds texture and a slight sweet taste, while the beet tops, cooked along with the maltagliati, balance the sweetness with their sharpness and lend a wonderful color contrast. Save time by making the maltagliati ahead and drying them.
2 teaspoons Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
5 medium-size carrots (12 ounces), cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
2 large shallots, peeled
Fine sea salt to taste
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
5 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow or red beet
4 large eggs
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup finely ground durum semolina flour
2 teaspoons salt
6 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
6 dozen maltagliati
Green tops from 6 medium-size beets, stemmed, washed well, and torn into piece
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 3500F. Remove the top from the beet, leaving 2 inches of stem attached. Reserve the top. Cut the beet in half lengthwise and wrap the halves in aluminum foil. Bake until a knife easily pierces the flesh, about 30 minutes.
Alternately, wrap the beet halves tightly in plastic wrap and microwave on high power for 5 minutes. Or boil the beet for 20 to 25 minutes. When cool, peel and discard the skin. Puree the beet in a food processor or blender. You will need 2 tablespoons of pureed beet.
If making the dough in a processor, add the eggs to the pureed beet and pulse to blend. Mix 2 cups of the unbleached flour with the semolina flour and salt and add to the bowl of the processor. Process until the mixture begins to form in a ball. Add only enough of the remaining flour until the dough holds together as one piece and cleans the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the processor and knead it on a lightly floured work surface for 2 to 3 minutes. Let the dough rest under a bowl for 30 minutes to relax the gluten and make it easier to roll.
To make the dough by hand, mix together 2 cups of the unbleached flour, the semolina flour, and salt directly on the work surface. Fashion a well in the center. Crack the eggs in the center of the well and beat the eggs with a fork until foamy. Add the pureed beet and mix well. Take care not to break the wall of flour. With your hands, bring the flour from the inside of the wall into the egg mixture.
Work in a clockwise fashion. Form a ball of dough using the remaining flour as needed. Push the excess flour aside and knead the dough until it is smooth and soft but not sticky, about 5 minutes. Let the dough rest under a bowl for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time and keep the rest covered. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 9 X 6-inch rectangle. Flour the piece lightly. Using a pasta machine, flatten the dough to the last setting following the directions on page 11. Trim the sheet of dough to 36 x 5½ inches. Keep the trimmings to re-roll later.
Cut the sheet in half crosswise into two 18-inch-long pieces. Cut each half lengthwise down the middle to form two strips. Cut nine 2 x 2¾-inch pieces from each strip, then cut the pieces diagonally to form triangles. These are the maltagliati.
Cover several cookie sheets with clean kitchen towels and arrange the maltagliati on them in single layers. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces of dough, separating the layers of maltagliati with more kitchen towels.
To make the maltagliati ahead, allow them to dry thoroughly on the towels for at least 2 days. This may take even longer if it is humid. The maltagliati are sufficiently dried when the edges begin to curl and they feel brittle. Store them in airtight containers for up to 2 months.
Preheat the oven to 3500F. Brush a cookie sheet with the olive oil and arrange the sliced carrots in a single layer on the sheet. Cut the shallots into halves and place them on the sheet. Roast until a knife easily pierces the vegetables, about 30 minutes. Turn the vegetables once halfway through the cooking time.
Transfer the carrots to a bowl. Cut the shallots into small pieces and add to the carrots. Toss with the salt and lemon zest.
Heat the butter in a large sauté pan while the pasta cooks.
Bring the water to a boil in a pasta pot, add the salt, 6 dozen of the maltagliati, and the torn beet tops. Cook until the maltagliati are a! dente, about 4 minutes.
Cutting the maltagliati
Drain the pasta and beet tops, leaving a little water clinging to the pasta. Transfer the mixture to the sauté pan, add the carrots and shallots, and mix together quickly over medium-high heat until hot. Transfer the maltagliati mixture to a platter, sprinkle with the cheese, and serve immediately.
NOTE: To sauce all the maltagliati, quadruple the sauce ingredients.