Even if you haven’t landed one of the coveted internships in the kitchen at the American Academy in Rome, you can have a behind-the-scenes tutorial in the way that pastas and sauces are made in its kitchen. The recipes in Pasta are arranged in the same order as the interns are taught to make them, from simple to more complex, and are organized the way Italians think about pasta, not only as fresh or dry but by the base of the sauces (oil, tomato, meat, and vegetable).
Even the most sophisticated cooks will be intrigued by chef Christopher Boswell’s engaging notes that explain what makes the flavors work together, why and how the sauces work with the pastas, what makes a dish not only great but unforgettable.
He includes simple techniques, small refinements, and easy variations. Among the more than ninety recipes you’ll find ’nduja, a soft, spicy sausage spread from Calabria; a sauce that unexpectedly pairs basil and asparagus; delicate and refreshing summer pastas; and hearty and earthy vegetarian dishes.
You’ll find the go-to dish of southern Italian families, made when no one can agree on what they want to eat; a recipe traditionally made by shepherds that uses three ingredients readily found in most modern kitchens; inventive sauces that are riffs on the classics; and iconic sauces whose success depends on something as simple as when to grind the pepper.
The influence of Chez Panisse is everywhere in Pasta (Chef Boswell is an alum and the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy was founded by Alice Waters). Sauces—and even meatballs—are often lighter than their Italian counterparts. Flavors are bright. Ingredients shine. Each dish tells a unique story.