The first dish from our trip that I tried to make at home was gnocchetti verdi con ragù di salsiccia, like we had at Due Lanterne. It is a bit of work to make the small pasta dumplings by hand, but it is worth it. I used fresh tomatoes for the ragù, to give it a light but fresh tomato flavor. Italian pork sausage (salsiccia) is not available in shops here, so I always make my own. I don’t bother to put it in a sausage casing, because the first step in any Italian recipe that uses sausage for pasta or risotto is to take the sausage meat out of its casing.
For about 3 servings as primo piatto (or 2 servings if you are having it as a main course with a salad)
300 grams (.66 lb) Italian sweet pork sausage (taken out of its casing)
500 grams (1.1 lb) ripe plum tomatoes
fresh spinach pasta made with 100 grams fresh spinach, 2 eggs, and about 200 grams Italian 00 flour
25 grams each of very finely minced onion, celery, and carrot
120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
2 Tbsp olive oil
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Make the fresh spinach pasta according to my recipe (you could also use a stand mixer instead of kneading by hand), and allow to rest in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic foil, for at least half an hour.
Meanwhile, make the ragù. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the green bit.
Puree the tomatoes in the food processor.
Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan. Add the finely minced carrot, onion, and celery.
Stir over medium-high heat until it starts to dry out and brown a little.
Now add the sausage meat.
Stir over high heat, breaking up the meat with wooden spatulas, until the meat starts to brown.
Keep going until the browned meat that sticks to the pan almost (but not quite) starts to burn, then deglaze with 120 ml of dry white wine.
Stir with a wooden spatula to loosen any meat that was stuck to the pan and allow the wine to reduce over medium-high heat until it is almost dry.
Then sieve the pureed tomatoes directly into the pan, using a foodmill to remove the seeds and pieces of skin.
This is an alternative method to seeding and skinning the tomatoes (which you could also do).
Bring the tomatoes to a boil…
…then simmer over low heat until the ragù is nice and thick. This should take at least half an hour. Do not add salt to the ragù, because the sausage probably already contains enough salt.
Meanwhile, take the spinach pasta out of the refrigerator and shape it into small gnocchetti. You can do this by taking a piece of dough that is about the size of a golk ball or small egg, and giving it a sausage shape with your hands on a wooden work surface (that is not sprinkled with flour). Then you can use a dough scraper to cut the sausage into small pieces, which you can then flatten with your fingers. The gnocchetti should be really small.
Store the gnocchetti that are finished on a suface dusted with flour to prevent sticking while you are making more.
Boil the gnocchetti in salted water until al dente, about 6 minutes (depending on the size/thickness).
If the sauce ends up too try, add some pasta cooking water. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the ragù with salt if needed.
When the gnocchetti are al dente, drain and add to to the ragù.
Stir to mix, then serve on preheated plates.
Sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano, if you like.
This is nice with a medium-bodied red wine, such as a Barbera, Valpolicella, or Chianti.
This wonderful seafood and vegetable soup can easily be adapted to what is available and seasonal, in terms of both seafood and vegetables. The main point about this soup is to use a variety of seafood and the delicious broth that will emerge from the ingredients.