Mozzarella & tomatoes
Italian recipes

Parmesane pasta

Basil

When I ran my restaurant, I changed the menu regularly, using seasonal vegetables in my dishes. However, there is one pasta dish that always remained on the menu. My customers appreciated so much Parmesane pasta that it was impossible to remove it. It is also one of the simplest recipes I have ever cooked: pasta with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella di buffala, and Parma ham.

I think its success is due to the simplicity which highlights the quality of the products used. The flavors of the tomato sauce: basil, thyme, oregano… are combined perfectly with the salty taste of Parma ham. The mozzarella melts on the pasta and brings a delicious creaminess. Cooking embellishes the products of our soil. In a similar way, high quality ingrédients really bring out the flavors of our cuisine.

I have called this dish “Parmesane pasta” in reference to the region where the delicious Parma ham is produced. If one day you go to Italy, make sure to visit this beautiful place of which the main city, Bologna, is the gastronomic capital of Italy.

On saturday I was craving pasta. I used to cook it so ofthen during the years I spent in my restaurant that I now miss pasta when I haven’t eaten any for over a week! So, I decided to make Parmesane pasta. I went to the city to an italian grocery store to look for good products. When I go to this grocery store, I want to buy everything – it’s such a treat for both the eyes and for the taste buds! Mozzarella, gorgonzola, straciatella, gnocchi, fresh pasta, antipasti… and a selection of the best Italian delicatessen.

Pasta-tomato-sauce-mozzarella-Parma-ham
Choose good ingredients

The fisrt and most important step in this recipe is the choice of products. I use real mozzarella di buffala. Traditionnaly, we made Mozzarella with buffalo milk rather than cow milk. This is where “mozzarella di buffala” gets its name from. There is “mozzarella di buffala” and “mozzarella di buffala campana”. For the second type of mozzarella, the region of origin is specified: Campania. Campania is the region where mozzarella was invented. If the mozzarella is called “mozzarella di buffala campana” it means that its manufacture is “P.D.O.” certified. “P.D.O.” is a label which designates products that “have been produced, processed and elaborated in a specific geographical area, using recognized expertise and ingrédients from the region in question”. It is a guarantee of quality.

However, we can found very good mozzarella in other italian régions. The best mozzarella I have ever eaten was from the “Caseficio Moris“, in the north of Italy.

Parma ham is an exceptional ham with a delicate taste and a melting texture. Parma ham also holds the P.D.O. label. It comes from the Emilia Romagna region, where Parma is located. It is made following an ancient technique by wich pigs are fed with cereals and parmesan whey. Its only preservative is salt. The maturing time is a minimum of 12 months and can be up to 36 months. As proof of its authenticity, a 5 points crown is placed on the ham.

When I have the time, I like to make my own pasta. Otherwise, I use dry pasta of very good quality sush as Rummo pasta, made with a good wheat semolina.

My tomato sauce is homemade. The only rule is that it must simmer as long as possible.

Pasta-tomato-sauce-mozzarella-Parma-ham

Parmesane pasta recipe

All seasons
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

Tomato sauce:

  • canned whole peeled tomatoes or 400g canned whole peeled tomatoes and 200g of fresh tomates 800 g
  • carrot 1
  • onion 1
  • stalk of celery 1
  • olive oil
  • Herbs: baby leaf, oregano, thyme, basil, marjoram
  • red wine
  • poultry broth (optional)
  • sugar
  • salt, pepper

Pasta

  • balls of 125g of mozzarella di buffala 3
  • thin slices of Parma ham 12
  • Pasta 720 g

Instructions
 

Sauce:

  • Chop the onion, carrot and celery.
  • Cut the fresh tomatoes into quarters.
  • Heat olive oil in a pot. Add the carrot, onion and celery. When the onion starts to become translucent, deglaze with a little bit of red wine. Add the fresh tomatoes. Crush them with a spoon.
  • Mix the peeled tomates.
  • Lower the heat and add the peeled tomates mixed in the pot. Add the herbs: chopped basil, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, majoram.
  • According to taste, poultry broth can be added.
  • If the sauce is too acid, add a pinch of sugar.
  • Let the sauce reduce on low heat for 1 to 2 hours.
  • Add salt and pepper.

Parmesan pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to “al dente” by following the instructions on the package.
  • Drain and mix the pasta into the tomato sauce.
  • Serve on pasta plates, placing a half mozzarella per person, surrounded by Parma ham.
  • Tip: the pasta cools quickly, so I put the plates into a hot oven for a few minutes before serving.
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