Archive for Spring Pasta

Fettuccine Alfredo As It Was Meant To Be

Some time ago I read how Fettuccine Alfredo was first created, using only butter and cheese.  So you can imagine my delight when one day I saw Italian butter at our favourite cheese shop, Les Amis du Fromage!  Wow, I could hardly wait to get home and make some Alfredo.  Of course, there’s no question but Alfredo demands fresh fettuccine or tagliatelle.  The Italian butter really rocks this dish! We have been able to get our hands on New Zealand grass-fed butter that worked out very well.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

1 lb. fresh, fettuccine/tagliatelle noodles**3 egg pasta dough
4 oz. Italian butter, unsalted and very soft (if you can’t find it…cultured, unsalted butter also works quite well)
2 – 3 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated + extra for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large pasta serving bowl in an 180 F oven.

Cook the fettuccine noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water for about two or three minutes, test for doneness after two minutes. At the same time, mix the softened butter in a bowl with the grated cheese until the cheese almost dissolves, forming a smooth cream. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta leaving just a small amount of water and toss the noodles with the Alfredo sauce in a heated serving bowl, adding pasta cooking water as necessary to create a creamy sauce; adding more cheese as necessary.  Season with freshly ground black pepper & serve immediately.

A creamy, cheesy dish of goodness enjoyed occasionally @#5.

To see how to make your own pasta, click Food Processor or Stand Mixer Pasta Dough.

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Phyllis’ Leek & Pancetta Tagliatelle

My “take” on a Lorenza de’Medici recipe. We think the addition of pancetta and a splash of white wine to the sauce makes it even more delicious.  I often make half the recipe for our primo which goes especially well with lamb marinated in my go to marinade for lamb.  And I hone in on local leeks, which are so sweet and delicious, to make this tasty, light sauce.

DSC_6712 nx2Makes 4 Servings

3 Tbsp. EVOO (or a combination of EVOO & unsalted butter)
2 lbs. leeks, cleaned & thinly sliced**
4 oz. pancetta cut ¼” thick & cut into cubes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken stock
Pinch of grated nutmeg
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 egg pasta dough** or 12 – 16 oz. dried egg tagliatelle

Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the pancetta cubes to the pan & sauté until lightly browned, but not crisp, remove & set aside.

If there is more than 1 Tbsp. oil left in the pan, remove the excess. Add the remaining oil or a combination of oil & butter to the pan, adding the leeks when the oil is hot. Sauté, stirring for a few minutes, until they are translucent; season with salt & pepper to taste. Add ¼ cup water, lower the heat & simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil & warm a large pasta serving bowl.

When the leeks are done, add the cream, white wine, stock & nutmeg to the pan. Heat through; cover and keep warm on very low heat until ready to toss with the pasta.

Cook the pasta until al dente; reserve ½ cup or so of the cooking water. Drain the pasta in a colander. Add 3 Tbsp. Parmigiano to the sauce & stir to combine. Add the pasta to the sauce in the pan, tossing & adding pasta cooking water if it appears too dry. Toss for about 1 minute; season with salt & pepper if required. Place the pasta into the warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, passing the remaining Parmigiano.

If you would like to make tagliatelle/fettuccine, click Food Processor or Stand Mixer Pasta Dough.
To see how to clean leeks, click How To Trim Wild (Ramps) And Regular Leeks.

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Spaghetti With Ramps

Years ago I read an article about ramps in Gourmet Magazine. I was really curious, what the heck are they? Turns out they are hunted & gathered in the spring and are also known as wild leeks.  A good friend, who is a chef, used her connections & got us some. Still don’t know the secret places they are found though! What do you do with a box of ramps, why you begin by making a batch of this pasta and slurp up spring!

DSC_1976 nx2Makes 4 Servings

½ lb. ramps
1 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated (Meyer lemon works great)
¼ cup EVOO
1 lb. spaghetti
8  Tbsp. Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, I like to use a combination of both + more for passing
1/4  tsp.  of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. soft butter

Toasted bread crumb topping, made ahead of time (see recipe below)

 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a large serving bowl in a 180 F oven to warm.

Trim the roots from the ramps & slip off outer skin on bulbs if loose. Blanch ramps in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 2 – 3 seconds; transfer to a colander with tongs. Coarsely chop the ramps &  put in a food processor with the lemon zest, chili flakes & EVO.
Add 1 – 1 ½ Tbsp. salt to the boiling water. Add the spaghetti and cook for 4 minutes. Remove ½ cup of pasta water & add to the  ramps in the food processor. Puree until smooth; remove to a small bowl; season with the salt.

Continue to cook spaghetti until al dente then remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the spaghetti in a colander. Return pasta to the pot, add the ramp puree & toss over moderate heat 1 – 2 minutes, thinning sauce with a bit of pasta cooking water if pasta appears to be too dry. Remove pasta from heat; add 2 Tbsp. butter & the cheese; toss together and place in a large, warm serving bowl. Top with the toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Toasted Bread Crumb Topping For Pasta

Preheat oven to 350 F.
3 ½” thick slices whole-grain bread
2 Tbsp. EVOO
Sea salt to taste

Cut bread into cubes, then grind to crumbs in a food processor. Spread in a shallow baking pan & bake in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 – 15 minutes. Pour crumbs into a bowl & stir in the EVO & salt.

Bread crumb topping can be used with other pastas as well.

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Spaghetti With Green Onion Pesto

This is my take on “ramp” pesto as no matter how hard I look, I never seem to be able to find local ramps here in B.C. There was a whisper from a friend that they grow on Vancouver Island…need to follow up on that. Otherwise we have to bring them in from eastern Canada, which I have done but it’s expensive even if they are amazing! What you are looking to buy failing finding ramps, are the youngest green onions you can get your hands at your local farmers market, which will give a more delicate taste. Don’t leave out the toasted crumbs, they really add another dimension to the pasta!

Makes 4 Servings

DSC_1976 nx2 2½ lb. thin young green onions, cleaned & trimmed, cut in half crosswise, or Ramps if you can get your hands on some!
1 lb. spaghetti
½ clove garlic
1 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest (a rasp grater is great for this)
6 Tbsp. of your best EVOO
8 Tbsp. fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, grated finely
1/8 tsp. of pepperoncino (red chili flakes)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Accompaniment: toasted bread-crumb topping

3 (1/2”) thick slices whole-grain bread
2 Tbsp. EVOO
Sea salt to taste

Make the Pesto:

Fill a large pasta pot with water & bring to the boil. Add 1-2 Tbsp. salt. Add the garlic to the pot & boil for about 1 minute, then add the green onions to the pot & blanch for about 1 minute until well wilted. Remove the green onions & garlic to a colander, drain well. Set aside the pot of water until ready to cook the spaghetti.

Place the cooled green onions & garlic in a food processor, add the lemon zest, EVOO, peperoncino & Parmigiano to the bowl. Whiz until pureed, then season with salt to taste. Place the mixture in a small bowl, cover & set aside while cooking the spaghetti.

Cook the Spaghetti & Finish the Dish:

Bring the pot of green onion-garlic water to a boil; stir in the spaghetti; cooking until it’s al dente, stirring occasionally. Test the spaghetti about 2 minutes before the stated cooking time on the package. Once al dente, remove 1 cup of the cooking water & set aside, then drain the spaghetti in a colander. Return the spaghetti to the pot, placing over low heat; add ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water & the pesto, tossing & stirring vigorously until well combined & all the spaghetti is coated with the sauce, adding more pasta cooking water if necessary, for about 1 minute, then quickly stir in the butter. Pour the spaghetti into a large, warm serving bowl, top with the toasted crumbs & serve immediately, passing extra Parmigiano.

Make the Toasted Bread-Crumb Topping:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cut the bread into cubes, then grind to crumbs in a food processor. Spread in a shallow baking pan & bake in the middle of the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 – 15 minutes. Pour crumbs into a bowl & stir in EVOO & salt to taste.

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Pasta with Cauliflower Da Leo

My interpretation of the pasta my husband had for lunch at Trattoria Da Leo in Lucca, Italy.  It’s not exactly the same but it’s still damned good. I like to use cauliflower when it’s in season because I think it’s sweeter, but this can be made anytime and will still be a great dish of pasta. I’m in love with the look of Romanesco cauliflower and think it would be fantastic in this sauce!

Makes 4 Servings

1 small cauliflower_DSC1989 nx2 2016
¼ cup EVOO (you can use up to 1/2 cup of oil)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/8 – ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ lb. Italian sweet sausage, skin removed & crumbled
½ cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Passata or 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded & coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano or 3 – 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
12 oz. to 16 oz. Casarecce pasta (or any short type pasta)

Place a serving bowl in a 180 F oven to warm.

Wash & trim the cauliflower; separate into small flowerets. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-2 Tbsp. salt.

Meanwhile, heat EVOO on medium heat in a large sauté pan & cook the onion until soft; add the sausage, breaking up lumps with a fork until no longer pink & just lightly browned  Add the garlic, parsley & red pepper flakes; sauté for a minute then add the chopped sage. Stir in the wine & reduce by half & add the tomatoes; continue cooking for a few minutes, reducing  longer if using fresh tomatoes. Add the cauliflower; cover the pan & continue cooking over low heat for about 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Add the cream & cook for a few minutes more. In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water; drain the pasta.  Add the cooked pasta to the cauliflower sauce & toss for a minute or so to coat with sauce, adding pasta cooking water if it appears too dry.  Remove from the heat & add freshly grated Parmigiano. Place the pasta in a large heated bowl & serve.

 To see how to prepare the tomatoes, click Peeling & Seeding Tomatoes.

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Cacio e Pepe

This is the best version of Cacio e Pepe I have made so far, although in Rome, where the dish originates, we found that they used tonnarelli, a  thick spaghetti, instead of regular spaghetti.   I would recommend the Spaghetti alla Chitarra pasta made by either GiGi or La Molisana. I use it as a substitute for the tonnarelli which,  I have since discovered is the Roman version of alla Chitarra!  You could also use di Gragnano brand spaghetti or other better quality brands. We enjoyed a great version at Ristorante Maccheroni in Rome, if you happen to be going to Rome!

_DSC1596 resizeMakes 2 Servings

6 oz. pasta
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste)
¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano cheese
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Stagionato cheese or Pecorino Romano

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta & cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender.  Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water; drain pasta.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper & cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.

Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet & bring to a simmer. Add pasta & remaining butter. Reduce heat to low & add Grana Padano, stirring & tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring & tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta & pasta is al dente. Add more pasta cooking water if sauce seems dry.

Transfer to a large warm serving bowl. Serve immediately.

To find Pecorino Stagionato cheese, please go to My Source List.

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Clarisse Schiller’s Pasta With Asparagus Sauce

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This is an excellent recipe for pasta dressed with an asparagus sauce from Julia Della Croce’s cookbook, Umbria. I made it this last spring and it was excellent. It’s worth tracking down really fresh, locally grown asparagus, either your own or from your Farmer’s Market as the recipe depends on the freshness of the asparagus and using the best EVOO you can get your hands on. I like to use the Umbrian EVOO imported by Amelia Oil.**

Makes 4 Servings

_DSC1278 ps 6 edit1 lb. thin asparagus
5 quarts of water
2 Tbsp. coarse salt
6 Tbsp. EVOO + several Tbsp. to finish pasta
1 large bunch of wild scallions, or 4 bunches of cultivated scallions, thinly sliced, including 3” of the green tops.
A generous pinch red pepper flakes
1 lb. pennette (short penne) or other small pasta such as orecchiette, gemelli or a similar tubular pasta

Prepare the Sauce:

Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus (or snap them off). Cut on the diagonal into 2” pieces.

Bring the water to a rapid boil & stir in the salt; add the asparagus & cook for up to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a skillet large enough to accommodate the pasta later, warm the 6 Tbsp. EVOO over medium heat & stir in the scallions & red pepper flakes. Using a wire skimmer or a sieve, scoop out all the asparagus pieces & add them to the skillet with the scallions. Do not discard the water. Toss the ingredients together & sauté until the asparagus pieces are sweet & tender, 1 – 2 minutes. They must not be crunchy. Remove the skillet from the heat.

In the meantime, return the pot of water to the boil & stir in the pasta. Cook until al dente. The timing will depend upon the type of pasta used. Drain the pasta & add it to the hot skillet with the asparagus & scallions. Toss well & check for salt. Pour in several tablespoons of EVOO, toss again & transfer to a warmed large, shallow bowl. Serve immediately.

Julia della Croce Note: no grated cheese tops the pasta at the table if the asparagus are fresh & tasty. It’s better to add more flavour with good raw olive oil & even a pinch more red pepper flakes at the end than to detract from the asparagus by introducing cheese.

My note:  Italians like their veggies more cooked than we do, so adjust the cooking time of the asparagus to suit your taste if you like.

**If you would like to buy some Umbrian EVOO, click here for My Source List.

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Turkey and Eggplant Pastitsio

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When we get a craving for Greek food in the fall and winter, there’s only one thing to be done, either Pastitsio (sort of a Greek macaroni and cheese) or moussaka …this is the macaroni and cheese favourite. The sauce can easily be made a day or two ahead and that’s what I do. I adapted the recipe from an old “Gourmet” magazine. You can use lamb, beef or veal but I wanted to “lighten” things up!

Makes 6 – 8 Servings

DSC_1715 nx2For the Turkey Sauce:

1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. pepperoncino (chili flakes)
¼ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. eggplant, cut into ½” cubes
28 – 32 oz. tin crushed tomatoes

For the Cheese Sauce:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. unbleached flour
2 cups homogenized milk
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
1 whole garlic clove
½ lb. Greek feta cheese, crumbled, preferably Dodonis
¼ to ½ tsp. salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

For the Pasta:

10 oz. penne or ziti

Butter or spray with non-cooking spray a 3 quart baking dish & set aside.

Place the cubes of eggplant into a colander & salt with approximately 2 tsp. salt. Set the colander over a bowl to catch any drips & allow to stand up to 1 hour.

Heat approximately ¼ cup EVOO in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. In the meantime rinse the eggplant with cold water & drain on a large kitchen towel, pressing out any water. When the oil is hot/shimmering but not smoking, saute half the eggplant. When it is golden/lightly browned, remove to a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with a few layers of paper towels. Remove the eggplant from the pan onto the paper towels with a spider or slotted spoon & saute the remaining eggplant in the same way. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. Wipe clean when cool and use to make the turkey sauce.

Make the Turkey Sauce:

Saute the onion in EVOO over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes or so. Raise the heat to medium-high & dd the turkey, saute, stirring & breaking up lumps until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute a minute or so add the peperoncino stir for 30 seconds then add the salt, oregano, cinnamon, sugar & pepper & saute, stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in the eggplant & tomatoes & gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove lid & simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes longer; season with salt & pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Make the Cheese Sauce & Cook the Pasta:

While turkey sauce is simmering, make cheese sauce & cook the pasta.

If turkey sauce has been done ahead, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt then the pasta and cook until al dente or a couple of minutes less than when it is fully cooked. Drain & set aside.

Make the cheese sauce by melting butter in a 2 qt. heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in flour & cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, add the garlic & the clove & bring to a boil, still over moderate heat. Reduce heat & simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes OR…see my microwave method for doing this bit.

Remove the garlic & the clove; add the feta, salt & pepper & cook, whisking well, until cheese is well incorporated. Gradually whisk the cheese sauce into the eggs by tablespoonfuls.

Toss half the pasta with the turkey sauce & the remaining half of the pasta with the cheese sauce.

Assemble the Pastitsio:

Pour the pasta with turkey sauce into the prepared baking dish. Spoon the pasta with cheese sauce over top, spreading evenly.

Bake pastitsio, uncovered, in middle of preheated oven until bubbling & top is golden, 25 – 30 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

**To see how do make the base for the cheese sauce in the microwave, click here.

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Ragu Bolognese

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I previously posted a recipe for the “official” sauce from Bologna. This version has the same basics but with the addition of beef stock and red wine. Some recipes use beef, pork and veal but I think the pancetta covers the pork part! Marcella Hazan’s recipe uses a little EVOO and butter, all beef, no pancetta, tinned tomatoes, nutmeg and tosses the sauce with the tagliatelle and a tablespoon of butter! Kind of puts me in mind of “spaghetti carbonara”. There’s the official version and then the adaptations that are not considered to be the real thing! Why not make a double batch so you can have some stashed in the freezer. Oh…fresh tagliatelle please, it’s considered bad form to use anything but! And please, no spaghetti here, otherwise the Bolognese police will come knocking on your door!

Makes 4 Servings

DSCN3304 nx2 pt22 Tbsp. EVOO
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
6 oz. ground beef (lean)
6 oz. ground veal
3 oz. finely chopped pancetta
½ cup dry red wine
3 cups beef stock
1 ½ Tbsp. double concentrated tomato paste (comes in a tube),
Otherwise, use 3 Tbsp. regular tomato paste
Sea or kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 cup homogenized milk, warmed before using
3 egg fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine** (l lb. pasta)
1 Tbsp. butter for tossing the pasta (opt.)

Finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano for serving with the pasta

Heat the EVOO in a very large, heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery & carrots & sauté until soft, 8 – 10 minutes. Add the beef, veal & pancetta, breaking up the beef & veal with a fork, until browned, about 15 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste & sauté for a minute more; add the wine, boil 1 minute, stirring often & scraping up any browned bits. Add 2 ½ cups beef stock, stir to combine; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low, gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavours come together, 1 ½ hours; season with salt & pepper to taste.

Bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan; gradually stir into the meat sauce. Cover sauce, leaving lid slightly ajar & simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until milk is absorbed, about 45 minutes, adding more stock by ¼ cupful’s to thin if necessary.

Heat a large pasta serving bowl in a warm oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt; add the tagliatelle & cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before it is al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Raise the heat under the ragu to medium; then transfer the drained pasta into the sauté pan, along with 1 Tbsp. butter, if using; tossing to combine; stirring in some of the reserved pasta cooking water by tablespoonful’s if the sauce seems dry. Place the pasta into the warmed serving bowl & serve immediately, passing the Parmigiano to sprinkle on the pasta.

**The ragu can be made 2 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover & keep chilled. Rewarm before using. Or you can freeze the sauce to use later.

**If you would like to see the recipe for homemade tagliatelle, please go to Food Processor, Stand Mixer Pasta Dough.

**If you wish to compare this recipe to the “Official” one, please go to “Official” Bolognese Sauce.

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Pasta With Spicy Beef Tomato Sauce

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A pasta dish full of Greek flavours with a combination of cinnamon, cloves and cayenne. The spices remind me of the first spaghetti dish I absolutely fell in love that got me started down the path to pasta addiction! The pasta is simple to make and mouthwatering to eat!

DSC_5857 nx2Makes 3 – 4 Servings

2 Tbsp. EVO
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 large onions, halved, thinly sliced
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 tomatoes, cut into ½” pieces
1 (8 oz.) tin passata or tomato sauce

8 oz. large macaroni (I use bucatini but you could use penne)

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

Heat EVO in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat; add the meat & onions & sauté until brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the cinnamon, cayenne & cloves; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes & passata or tomato sauce; simmer until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, season with salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 Tbsp. salt & the pasta, stirring the pasta occasionally until al dente; checking 2 minutes before time stated on the package.

Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water; drain pasta in a colander & add to sauce, tossing to combine. If mixture appears too dry, add a couple of tablespoonful’s of water and keep tossing for about 1 minute. Place pasta in a large, heating serving bowl. Serve immediately passing the cheese.

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