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Battered pasta with tomato, ham and peas


Battered pasta, monfettini, manfrigoli, baffucci, battutini, with these and many other names, a poor and frugal pasta format is known which in Romagna was created to accompany broth made with bones or beans. A dish that already declares its simple nature from this combination, created to help azdor once upon a time to put something to eat on the table. This aspect of “weekday” cuisine is amplified even more if we consider that theoriginal dough was without eggs but only water, yellow and white flour and a little salt.

I looked for information on battered pasta and so I found myself faced with the story of a recipe that was not born as a recovery but which has its own tradition, made of poverty and necessity, prepared with ingredients of little economic value, present in the pantry of peasant kitchens of the early twentieth century. Ennobled on Tonino Guerra's table which recalls a dough very similar to that of passatelli cooked in meat broth and seasoned with abundant parmesan cheese, but he was a family of merchants who could afford these noble and tasty variations.

Until a few years ago I always considered this fresh pasta format as a recovery production, to be made only when there is some pastry leftover from the preparation of cappelletti or ravioli, a way to avoid wasting the scraps. You just needed to have some good broth to be able to eat them, perhaps sprinkled with some cheese as Tonino suggested. Then came Giorgio Clementi from the Osteria dei frati who made me discover how manfettini could be treated like a risotto (but with less cooking time) and end up on the plate dry, together with the most delicious condiments imaginable.

I dusted off this pasta format, which I had already prepared in poor broth together with chestnuts or dry with pears and cinnamon, for the association The colors of Adoption, founded by a dear friend who involved me in one of the things I least love to do: taking part in a cooking show. I bit the bullet and made the best of it, hiding my insecurity behind a smile and thinking about the fact that I would spend a couple of hours in pleasant and cheerful company, as it was.

The cooking show was aimed at a competition between local associations which however we did not win but, as some mothers pointed out to me, the success was decreed by the little ones who literally gobbled up the whole dish! To thank the families of the association and for the mothers who wanted the recipe, here is the full explanation below 🙂

PS: girls I removed the ricotta, they are good even without it, I promise!

Battered pasta with tomato, ham and peas

For pasta:
220 g of spelled flour
2 large eggs

For the seasoning:
160 g shelled peas
extra virgin olive oil to taste
1 small white onion
100 g of raw ham “gambuccio”.
6 peeled tomatoes
10 basil leaves
100 g of Parmigiano Reggiano aged 24 months

Prepare the dough by mixing the flour with the eggs, form a long loaf and cut it into slices. Leave the slices to dry on the cutting board for a few hours. When they have dried*, make a “beaten” with the pasta and leave it aside to dry a little longer.

Bring some water to the boil, salt it and then dip the peas in it for a couple of minutes. Drain them and let them cool in water and ice. Once cooled, season them with oil, salt and pepper.
Finely chop the white onion. Brown it in a pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Add the peeled tomatoes and their preserving liquid and break them up with a fork. Take the slices of ham, overlap them and cut them into thin strips, then add them to the onion and cook them for a minute.
Season with salt (I didn't add it, the ham is already tasty enough) and pepper and also add the roughly chopped basil. Bring the heat to low and let the sauce cook for ten minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons of peas to the dressing.

Bring half a liter of water to the boil and salt it lightly.
Add the beaten pasta to the sauce, add a little boiling water and continue cooking as if it were a risotto. When the monfettini are cooked (4-5 minutes is enough if the pasta is fresh) turn off the heat, add the cheese and stir.
Distribute the beaten pasta onto the plates and add the reserved peas on top.

*If you prefer, you can dry the slices of pasta and then pass them through the food processor chopper with the help of some semolina flour (thank you very much to Carlotta for this trick that speeds up preparation!).

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