Pasta is one dish you can prepare at home in a way that can be “dressed up” or “dressed down” to fit any meal or occasion. Creating a satisfying pasta dish can be easy, but can also go easily astray. Italian chef John Coletta has taken the mystery out of creating the perfect pasta meal in his new cookbook, 250 TRUE ITALIAN PASTA DISHES: Easy & Authentic Recipes Inspired by Quartino Ristorante Pizzeria Wine Bar (Robert Rose; September 2009; softcover/$24.95; ISBN: 978-0-7788-0221-1). Co-written with noted food writer Nancy Ross Ryan, the book provides home cooks with all the tips, tools, and techniques needed to produce delicious pasta meals.
“I grew up eating Italian pasta as it was meant to be prepared and enjoyed,” says Chef Coletta. “I hope that with this cookbook I can pass on that experience so that families everywhere can fully appreciate this delicious food.”
At the end of the day, a dish of pasta is a simple, affordable pleasure that is easy to execute in the home kitchen. It’s informal and meant to be shared and brought to the table in a big bowl or on a platter, to be served by the host or presented so that everyone can help themselves.
Coletta and Ryan have included an abundance of recipes for many different kinds of pasta — fresh and dried, festive and every day. Most are very easy to make and won’t take much time to prepare, while others are more complex and time-consuming, suitable for very special occasions. Some of the delicious recipes in the book include:
§ Conchiglie with Crab and Peas
§ Linguine with Turkey-Tomato Sauce
§ Macaroni and Cheese
§ Baked Penne with Mushrooms
§ Pappardelle with Pancetta and Fresh Ricota
§ Strozzapretti with Tuscan Kale
§ Fusili with Pancetta and Green Olives
§ Linguini with Salmon and Tomato Sauce
§ Leftover Oven-Browned Ziti with Leeks and Onions
§ Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
§ Spaghetti with Walnut Cream
In addition to his opening chapter “Pasta Express,” with 21 recipes that are ready to eat in about 30 minutes, Coletta has included chapters on fresh pasta making, meatless pasta, poultry and meat sauces, seafood pastas, leftover pasta, pasta salads, baked pastas, filled pastas, recipes devoted to kids, and even pasta desserts such as:
§ Sweet Frittata of Dido with Grapes and Pine Nuts
§ Apricot Ravioli with Rosemary
§ Orzo with Sweet Gorgonzola Cream, Pear and Walnuts
§ Fusili Pudding with Ricotta and Honey
§ Chocolate Cannelloni Filled with Sweet Ricotta and Oranges
“Creating a satisfying pasta dish in the Italian tradition can be easy, but can also go astray in so many ways: overcooking the pasta or drowning it in sauce to name just two. The sole purpose of this book is to give home cooks the instructions, skills, and recipes they need to prepare both store-bought and home-made pasta for their table.”
About the Authors
John Coletta is co-owner and chef of Quartino Ristorante Pizzeria Wine Bar, an urban Italian neighborhood restaurant and wine bar offering authentic regional Italian food in downtown Chicago. A first generation Italian-American born in New York City, Coletta was a gold medal winner in the 1984 and 1992 International Culinary Olympics. He began his culinary career apprenticing at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel under legendary executive chef Arno Schmidt. Coletta then worked under executive chef Seppi Renggli at New York’s famous Four Seasons restaurant. Coletta also trained in Europe with master chefs Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon. He was named one of 15 “America’s Rising Star Chefs,” and selected for a PBS television series and companion cookbook, and was featured along with Julia Child and Paul Bocuse as part of the Visiting Masters from the World of Foods program at the 1997 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Coletta has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines. He lives with his family in Chicago.
Nancy Ross Ryan is the principal in Chicago-based Fresh Food Writing. She specializes in food writing and recipe development with an emphasis on cookbooks.