BAKED ROTINI /poem: “Mistress of Spices”
BAKED ROTINI (Springs or coils)
I was moving some spices from the newlywed’s home (our son and his little wifey!) to our new condo, and thought of a poem which will follow this bake pasta recipe I made for my son’s 30th birthday on October 9th.
I prepared a few tins of this Baked Rotini (curlicue pasta—like curly fries, only pasta) and along with this, I made cutlets parmigiana style. If anyone wants that recipe…write me and I’ll post it.
For the baked pasta:
2 lbs of De Cecco (the absolute best pasta, if you can find it!) and this will serve from 10-12 people. Use rotini pasta (can use penne, if desired) cooked al dente (to the bite or a little under) in abundant, salted water. Use only 1 lb of pasta for 4-6 people (assuming there will be other food).
For the sauce: use plain whole plum tomatoes—passed thorough a sieve or crushed by hand. Use fresh or canned Italian plum tomatoes only (no skins!)
Sauté in olive oil: garlic, onions, hot pepper, and before turning a golden color, add a dash of white wine—when the alcohol evaporates, fling in the tomatoes, basil, and salt.
Chop abundant parsley and set aside.
For the sauce—if desired sauté’ pork loin cut into bite-sized pieces and add to the sauce. Low simmer for ½ to ¾ of an hour.
Fry separately cut up small pieces of eggplant, sliced mushrooms, chopped onions, and if desired, use zucchini also—small pieces. These may be added to the sauce directly, if you want to use the lazy method. Either way, it’ll be delish!
Layer the pasta into a large rectangular baking pan like this:.
First the sauce (without the veggies or meat), then pasta, then shredded or cut or sliced mozzarella, grated parmigiano cheese, and ricotta, if desired. (I don’t use ricotta when I make the pork sauce).
Then add a layer of the veggies and or meat—mixed together or separately and then more sauce, followed by more pasta, etc. to the top and finish the top layer with some sauce, some mozzarella and some basil and parsley. You really can’t screw this up, folks.
Bake in a pre-heated oven (400-450 degrees for 45 minutes…if you like the top crisp, then 5 minutes or less on BROIL. (Don’t do this if you’re going to freeze it—do the crisping at the last minute.
This can be frozen beforehand for a party. When needed, defrost and bake, or if already frozen directly after baking (defrost and then warm over in a very hot oven).
Can you use peas with this dish? Absolutely. Other ingredients? Tiny meatballs, sliced sausage, snippets of prosciutto, etc.
Always reserve sauce for the top when you serve, parsley, and grated cheese…
And here’s the new poem inspired by moving my spices…
Mistress of Spices
Cleansed with rose waters of my bath, I don a loose gown of shimmering lime cotton shot through with cucumber and silver silk. I wrap my head in cashmere cloth, the colors
of saffron and turmeric, tucking under every long black strand beneath the turban; wash my hands with rainwater from a barrel outside the door. My feet are bare, browned
from the sun. Dangling on a golden chain, an anklet’s bells tinkle as I move across
the stone floor. My hand grazes bottles, jars, burlap pouches and tiny tins. I spin a teak
rack of flat, round wheels on a three-tiered stand. Powdered curry, ground cumin, green pods of cardamom, rose salt from a huge lake in Bolivia.
Sea salts: pearly-white, and dove gray from beaches in the Mediterranean. An urn of anise, a pot of bay, and a flagon of cassia, fenugreek’s pungent seeds swirl in a coffer;
uncorked ampoules of truffle oil permeate the air an aroma akin to moist loam and moss. I shake a carafe of garlicky wine vinegar, watch white cloves and pepper corns afloat
like pieces of a kaleidoscope. On a quartz shelf, sentinel treasures: a cachepot of lavender covered with cheesecloth, thin vanilla sticks in a crystal vial, coriander in a brown
earthen jug, paprika in a gourd, and poppy seeds spilling out a jute sack. I conjure spells, whirl magic into teas, tisanes, elixirs, potions; I prepare farsumagru, vindaloo, ćevapčići
with my spices, plus two more: love in all its aromatic scents and senses harvested in dawn mists, and the other whose name, never spoken, cannot be written.
Thanks Mel and Ruth for your critques.