Over the years I have collected many pasta recipes but this one is, according to me, something really special. In all its simplicity. The flavors are just perfect, every ingredient enhances the other. Forget your prejudices about starch. Forget that potatoes and pasta should not be combined. In Italy people combine these two and I do not think that this leads to obesitas. Every time I tell a Dutch friend that I ate pasta with potatoes they gasp in horror. That's just not done! I read it in their eyes. Starch combined with starch? In Italy potatoes are considered as a vegetable (which they are) and therefore considered a perfect ingredient to combine with rice or potatoes. I dare you to try this and let me know what you think of it!
My whole life I have eaten pasta cooked in a sort of sauce made of potatoes. The Neapolitan way. Delicious as well. But this recipe is different. You cook the pasta separately and at the end you mix all the ingredients. This recipe was inspired by my father. He told me about his Sicilian friend who had explained to him how to make pasta with potatoes, the Sicilian way. My father makes it now, apparently, often at home and my mother and sister love it. I have based my recipe on his recipe but altered it a bit.
For 4 people you'll need:
- 8 small potatoes
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- one handful of parsley as well finely chopped
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 tsp of extra vergine olive oil (+1 extra for the pasta, read below)
- 1 portion of granulated saffron, in an individual sachet
- grated pecorino cheese, to taste. I would recommend about 40-50 gr (at least)
- a bit of water (read below)
- Fettuccine, 250 gr
Wash and peel the potatoes and cut them into small cubes. Put the potatoes together with the finely chopped onion and parsley in a wide sauce pan. Pour in some water until the potatoes are just covered. Add the olive oil and the stock cube. Stir and put the lid on the pan. Let come to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft and have turned into a creamy paste. Be careful with salt, you probably won't need it because of the stock cube.
In the mean time you have brought a large pan with salted water to a boil for the pasta. In this particular case, with this particular pasta, it's better to add a teaspoon of olive oil to the water. If you do this you prevent it from sticking which can happen with this wide pasta. Cook the pasta al dente.
Put the saffron powder in a bowl and add a ladle of the starchy pasta water to it. Stir until there has been created a dark orange liquid. Drain the pasta. Add the potato cream to the pasta and the saffron liquid. Stir. The pasta will magically color yellow. Add the grated cheese, keep a bit of the cheese aside to sprinkle onto the pasta later. When the cheese has melted and has been absorbed by the pasta and potatoes -this will take 1 to 2 minutes - you are ready to serve. Add a bit more of the cheese on top of the pasta. Ideal for every season and every occasion according to me.