Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy

Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy

by Francine Segan, Lucy Schaeffer

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A palate-pleasing cookbook that “enables us to virtually visit Italy’s 20 regions and savor its pastas” (Booklist, starred review).
In Pasta Modern, Italian food authority Francine Segan challenges the notion that pasta must be traditional or old-world. In this beautifully photographed cookbook, Segan details the hottest, newest, and most unusual pasta dishes from Italy’s food bloggers, home cooks, artisan pasta makers, and vanguard chefs. The one hundred distinctive pasta recipes, including many vegan and vegetarian specialties, range from simple and elegant (Pasta with Caramelized Oranges) to more complex (Neapolitan Carnevale Lasagna) to cutting-edge (Cappuccino-Caper Pasta). Tips and anecdotes culled from Segan’s Italian travels enhance the easy-to-follow directions, and a glossary of more than fifty extraordinary dried pastas showcases shapes to revive any pasta lover’s repertoire. For contemporary, authentic Italian pasta, Pasta Modern is the go-to guide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613125502
Publisher: ABRAMS (Ignition)
Publication date: 10/15/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 464,125
File size: 18 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Francine Segan is the author of five cookbooks, including Dolci and The Opera Lover’s Cookbook. She has contributed to Tribune Media Services, Food Arts, and Gastronomica, and has appeared on hundreds of TV programs including the Today show, The Early Show, and Sunday Morning. She has lectured across the country for the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History, and many others. She divides her time between New York and Italy.

Read an Excerpt


Appetizers & Soups



In today's Italy, pasta is served in all sorts of new and exciting ways, not only as the traditional first course to a seated meal. Popular in Italy is a new trend called apericena or aperitivo cenato, appetizers as dinner: an assortment of tiny plates served in lieu of dinner. Hip restaurants and bars present elaborate buffets, with many lush pasta offerings, like Gooey Mozzarella Sliders, included free with the price of a glass of wine or cocktail. Creative finger foods like Pasta Pretzel Sticks (pictured on previous page), Pasta-Wrapped Shrimp, and Award-Winning Macaroni Fritters are nibbled at bars, at cocktail parties, on picnics, or at the beach, or are taken to work for lunch. In fact, several of the appetizers in this chapter are so simple to make and fun to eat that I've used the nontraditional "serves as many as you like" format — this way you can easily adjust the recipe to serve one, ten, or a hundred people!


SERVES as many as you'd like | REGION:Throughout Italy

Italy's amazingly creative two–Michelin-star chef Davide Scabin invented "pasta sushi" a few years ago by substituting pasta shells for white rice, making beautiful, Japanese-inspired but Italian-flavored, one-bite appetizers. Genius!

He seasons the shells with a splash of rice vinegar and a few drops of mirin, a sweet Japanese rice wine, then lets his imagination rip, filling the shells with any sort of seafood, cooked or raw, garnished in myriad ways. Try poached lobster topped with caviar, diced tuna, or a raw oyster — or create your own. You can fill them all the same, or make an assortment; just calculate about four pasta shells per serving and a heaping tablespoon of filling for each.

Chef Scabin loves the idea because it showcases how versatile Italian pasta is and how easily it crosses over into other cuisines. I love it because now I can make my own Italian-style sushi at home in minutes!


4 large pasta shells per person, preferably Felicetti brand Salt Rice wine vinegar or lemon juice, to taste Mirin, sweet Marsala, or sherry, to taste


Diced or thinly sliced raw fish, such as tuna or salmon; raw or cooked oysters; sea urchin; caviar; and/or cooked fish like poached lobster, crab, or shrimp

FOR THE GARNISH: Lemon or orange zest; grated horseradish; chopped scallions; diced fresh fruit; burrata or other cheese; red chili pepper; and/or sea salt

Boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with a splash, to taste, of rice wine vinegar and mirin. Spread the shells out onto a plate and let them cool to room temperature.

Fill each shell with 1 tablespoon filling. Garnish to taste, season as you like, and serve immediately.


{Pasta croccante}

SERVES 4 to 6 | REGION:Throughout Italy

It's amazing how cooked pasta tossed with a little oil and then baked turns into perfect golden crisps with a pretty bubbly surface that look just like pretzel sticks. (See photo.) They're great served plain, with just a sprinkle of salt, or you can jazz them up with dry spices like ground garlic, cayenne, or smoked paprika. I like to arrange these eye-catching nibbles poking out of a wine glass and serve them with assorted cheeses, salami, and olives. Keep a box of pasta on hand and you'll never need to buy pretzels or crackers again!

Olive oil or butter
4 ounces (115 g) perciatelli or other long pasta, preferably Garofalo brand Salt

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Boil the pasta in salted water until it is tender, 1 minute longer than al dente. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons oil or butter. Lay the pasta strands onto the prepared sheet in straight lines, with a bit of space between them. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes.


{Mezzi rigatoni ripieni}

SERVES 6 | REGION:Piedmont

Cute chubby pasta tubes, called mezzi rigatoni, are now my goto appetizers. There are so many ways to fill them! The basic idea is to stuff them with creamy ricotta — seasoned with minced herbs, saffron, orange zest, anything — then garnish with simple-to-make Parmesan crisps for crunch. They're impressive, but not fussy or hard to make.

Here they're seasoned with aromatic, decadent white truffles, scarily expensive, but a few grams of these precious nuggets go a long way here! A more economical but still highly flavorful substitute is dried porcini mushrooms.

Grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (245 g) ricotta, preferably sheep's milk Salt and white pepper
¼ ounce white truffle or 1 tablespoon ground dried porcini mushrooms
8 ounces (225 g) mezzi rigatoni or other short tube pasta Olive oil

Make the Parmesan crisps: Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Put a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan in 4 separate spots in the pan, creating 4 thin circles. Cook until the edges are light golden, about 2 minutes, but do not turn them over. With a spatula, carefully slide the Parmesan rounds out of the pan and onto a plate. They will be soft but will harden on the plate as they cool.

Put the ricotta into a bowl and season it with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon grated truffle or ground porcini. Put the mixture into a pastry bag or into a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Drain, toss with 1 tablespoon oil, and let cool slightly.

Fill each tube with the ricotta mixture and set the tubes upright onto serving plates. Garnish each with crumbled bits of the Parmesan crisps, a few drops of oil, and additional thin slices of shaved truffle or the remaining ground porcini. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Parmesan crisps make a wonderful appetizer all by themselves. You can season them as they cook with a myriad of ingredients: a pinch of red pepper flakes, dried rosemary, or even cocoa nibs.


{Frittatine di maccheroni}

MAKES about 12 fritters | REGION:Campania, especially Naples

Macaroni fritters are a typical Neapolitan street food, found in every rosticceria shop throughout town, made with any shape pasta in any sort of sauce. This more refined version, made with cauliflower and béchamel, won Neapolitan blogger Lydia Capasso first place in a contest sponsored by the Garofalo Pasta Company. Crispy outside and creamy-cheesy inside, these are a great make-ahead dish, as you can assemble all the ingredients a day or two before and just fry them when you're ready to serve.


3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup (180 ml) milk, warmed
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg Salt and white pepper

Make the béchamel: Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then, off the heat, use a fork to stir in the flour until smooth. Return to the heat and cook for about 1 minute, until golden, then slowly add the milk, stirring for a few minutes, until thick. Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and white pepper. Set aside.


1 pound (455 g) cauliflower florets Grated Parmesan cheese
3 ounces (90 g) sharp provolone scamorza cheese, chopped
8 ounces (225 g) bucatini or other long thick pasta, preferably Garofalo brand
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup (28 g) homemade breadcrumbs, toasted Vegetable oil, for frying

Begin the fritters: Boil the cauliflower in a pot of salted water until very soft, about 10 minutes, drain and put into a food processor. Puree the cauliflower with the béchamel, ? cup (40 g) of Parmesan, and provolone until it resembles cooked oatmeal.

Meanwhile, break the pasta in half and boil it in salted water for 3 minutes less than the package directs. Drain and stir in the cauliflower mixture. Taste and add more cheese or other seasonings, if needed.

Lightly butter an 8-inch round high-sided pan and spread the pasta mixture into it, packing it down firmly. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.

Finish the fritters: In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons flour with 4 tablespoons water to form a smooth slurry. Spread the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Using a 2-inch (5-cm) cookie cutter, cut out rounds from the cold pasta. Gather up any odd bits of pasta and form them into another round.

Dip each round into the flour-water mixture, then into the breadcrumbs, coating all sides.

In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Add the rounds and fry until dark golden on both sides. Drain on a paper towel–lined plate. Serve at room temperature.


{Gamberi in crosta di pasta}

SERVES as many as you'd like | REGION:Northern and central Italy

This is as simple as a strand of pasta wrapped around a shrimp, then pan-fried to a crisp delight. It's crunchy outside, with a moist and tender shrimp inside — so pretty and very easy to make. The only trick is that you must use fresh, not dried, pasta. You can use this technique to wrap fresh pasta around all sorts of nibbles: mushrooms, baby peppers, even little meatballs.

Top the shrimp with Parmesan cheese, garlic, red pepper flakes, or minced herbs, or serve with an assortment of toppings. They are also a terrific showcase for gourmet salts like flaked or smoked salt. The perfect finger food!

2 to 3 raw shrimp per person Fresh tagliatelle or other long fresh egg noodles (1 strand per shrimp)
Olive oil Salt Lemon zest

Peel and devein the shrimp, but leave the tails on. Boil them in a pot of salted water until firm, about 1 minute, then remove them using a slotted spoon.

Bring the water back to a boil, then add the pasta; cook until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and put it into a bowl of cold water to keep it from sticking. Wrap a strand of pasta around each shrimp.

In a frying pan, heat ¼ inch (6 mm) of oil over high heat. Add the shrimp and fry until the pasta is golden, then turn and fry them on the other side. Drain off excess oil on a paper towel. Serve garnished with salt and lemon zest.


{Capellini in timballo}

SERVES 6; makes 24 pieces | REGION: Campania and southern Italy

What a brilliant concept! Little nests of Pecorino-flecked angel hair pasta, baked to form perfect one-bite nibbles. Though they are excellent plain, there are endless ways to fill these chewy, crunchy morsels: with prosciutto, pesto, tomatoes, shaved Parmesan, mozzarella, salami, caponata, or garlicky broccoli rabe — whatever your heart desires.


Olive oil
1 large egg Grated pecorino or other aged cheese
1 tablespoon butter
4 ounces (115 g) capelli d'angelo or other long, thin pasta, preferably Benedetto Cavalieri brand Salt


About 4 tablespoons minced salami or 'nduja, pesto, anchovy, prosciutto, cheese, etc.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly oil twenty-four mini muffin cups (or use disposable mini cups and set them on a baking pan; do not use regular-sized muffin cups).

In a bowl, combine the egg, 1 tablespoon of cheese, and butter.

Boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente and drain. Toss with the egg mixture until well combined and almost all absorbed. Using a fork, twirl a few strands into a nest shape and press them firmly into a prepared muffin cup. Repeat to fill all the muffin cups. Drizzle any remaining egg mixture on top of the nests.

Bake until set, about 12 minutes. Serve plain or top each with about 2 teaspoons of something yummy.


{Timballi di capellini e spinaci}

SERVES 6 to 8 | REGION: Campania and southern Italy

Adorable little pasta sandwiches! A riff on the slider, only the bun is actually angel hair pasta pressed into a muffin tin, and instead of a burger there's a meatless filling of sautéed spinach and mozzarella. It's all baked together until crunchy on the outside and beautifully chewy and gooey inside.

11 tablespoons (165 g) butter Homemade breadcrumbs, toasted
4 ounces (115 g) baby spinach Salt
2 large eggs Grated Parmesan cheese
12 ounces (340 g) capellini or other long, thin pasta
8 ounces (225 g) mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Lightly butter eighteen muffin cups or ramekins and sprinkle them with breadcrumbs.

In a small pan, sauté the spinach in 1 tablespoon of the butter and a pinch of salt until just tender. Chop and set aside.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs and ? cup (40 g) of Parmesan, then stir in 8 tablespoons (115 g) thinly sliced butter. Set aside.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with the egg mixture until well combined and the butter has melted. Using a fork, twirl a few strands into a nest shape and press them firmly into a prepared muffin cup, filling it halfway. Top with a thin layer of spinach and a slice of mozzarella. Add another twirl of pasta on top and firmly press down, making sure it's tightly packed. Top with thin slices of the remaining butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden. Let the sliders rest for a few minutes before removing them from the cups.


SERVES 6 | REGION: Piedmont

Wild! This is one of the craziest things I've ever seen done with pasta: It is intentionally overcooked, pureed, and converted into a simple-to-make soufflé. It is then served in a pool of tomato or meat sauce and topped with Parmesan cream. You get the distinct taste of sauce and creamy cheese with each glorious mouthful.

It is a whimsical, playful creation of chef Davide Scabin, who wanted a lighter version of the French soufflé, so in place of all that butter and flour, he cleverly substituted pureed pasta.

4 ounces (115 g) penne or other short pasta, preferably Felicetti brand
3 large eggs, separated Grated grana padano or Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream
2 cups (480 ml) meat or tomato sauce (homemade or store-bought)

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Butter six ramekins or muffin tins.

Boil the pasta in 3 cups (720 ml) unsalted water for about 30 minutes, until very mushy. Drain and puree in a food processor or blender, adding a little of the cooking liquid, until smooth. Leave the puree in the processor until it has cooled to room temperature, then puree in the egg yolks, 2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese, the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, beat the egg whites with a handheld mixer until very stiff. Pulse half the whites into the pasta mixture, then stir in the rest. It will be very dense.

Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins and bake for about 18 minutes, until set.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, simmer the cream and 2 additional tablespoons of cheese over very low heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Season with pepper.

Heat the meat or tomato sauce and divide it among six small serving plates. Unmold a soufflé onto the center of each plate and top with the cheese sauce.


{Spiedino gratinato di ruote pazze}


Pasta, scallops, sweet peaches, and red onion grilled on a stick — Italy's delightful answer to shish kebob.

This is a wonderfully new way to serve pasta, artful and exceptionally delicious. To make this whimsical dish you need a whimsical pasta — ruote pazze, crazy wheels. This is a toothsome, thick, irregular-shaped wagon-wheel pasta that was invented by the Benedetto Cavalieri pasta company in the 1930s, with a special textured design that stays delightfully al dente to the very last bite and is easy to skewer.

I spent a magical few days in Puglia with the Cavalieri family, observing their old-world artisanal methods, chatting about the nuances of pasta making, and enjoying lunches and dinners together. Benedetto Cavalieri and his son Andrea continue a more than one-hundred-year family tradition of exceptional pasta making.

8 rosemary branches or wooden skewers, about 5 inches (13 cm)
8 large scallops
1 peach, cut into 8 slices
½ small red onion, cut into bite-sized pieces Olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely minced Black pepper
16 wagon-wheel pasta, preferably ruote pazze, Benedetto Cavalieri brand Salt

Soak the branches or skewers in water for 1 hour to prevent charring.

Preheat the broiler or a grill to medium-high heat.

In a bowl, combine the scallops, peaches, onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, and season with black pepper.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with the other ingredients. Thread a pasta wheel, peach slice, scallop, onion piece, and a second pasta wheel onto each branch or skewer. Season the skewers with salt and grill or broil them, turning them over after a minute or so, until the scallops are cooked through, about 3 minutes total.


Excerpted from "Pasta Modern"
by .
Copyright © 2013 Francine Segan.
Excerpted by permission of Abrams Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 Appetizers & Soups,
2 Fruit,
3 Nuts,
4 Vegetarian,
5 Fish,
6 Meat,
7 Savory Chocolate & Coffee,
8 Fresh Pasta,
9 Holidays,
10 Pasta for Dessert,

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