I could eat pasta every day without ever getting sick of it, and sadly I do speak from personal experience. Recently I purchased a handful of imported pastas from an Italian specialty store, including a few noodles I’ve never seen before. One of the variations I went home with is mafaldine, also known as reginette. The noodle is thin, like fettuccine, but ridged like lasagna. Usually a simple roasted tomato sauce will satisfy my carb cravings, but special pastas call for special measures.
Since mafaldine is a textural noodle, I wanted to keep the sauce understated but substantial. Ultimately I went with a light but salty meat sauce with a little more vegetables than a typical Bolognese.
The beauty of cooking, of course, is the ability to mix and match to your heart’s content and this recipe is no exception: you can use your favorite ground meat, whether it’s traditional beef, a blend (pork/beaf/veal, for example), or even a lighter option like ground turkey or a soy-based substitute like Yves meatless ground. Same goes for the olives: I’d recommend any sort of black olive like a kalamata, but my favorite for this dish is oil-cured black olives (often found in grocery store antipasto bars). They look like this – the more wrinkled, the tastier!
- 1 lb mafaldine pasta (you can also use tagliatelle or fettuccine if you can’t find mafaldine)
- ¾ lb ground meat (see note above)
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
- 4 tbsp capers
- About 20-30 black kalamata-style or similar olives (pits removed)
- ¼ onion, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and minced
- 2 stalks celery, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp oregano (or Italian seasoning blend)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
- Fresh italian parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until wilted. Remove the cherry tomatoes from the oven and set aside, reserving any juice that’s left the tomatoes.
- Gently fry the carrot, onion, and celery with the oil. Add the meat and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Brown the meat as much as possible.
- Next, add the capers, then the olives, the oregano and the roasted cherry tomatoes and the juices, and cook for a further 3 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper(s).
- Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water, drain when “al dente” and dress with the prepared sauce, sautéing both together in the pan for about 1 minute. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve.
Time: 45 minutes
By Melissa Aquino