Midnight pasta

Sicilian Martina Caruso sets the rules for large quantity first courses

29-07-2016

Inside the restaurant at hotel Signum in Malfa, on the island of Salina (Messina), you help yourself from a large pot of Busiate pasta with tomato like that in the photo. Cooking large pots of pasta is hardly easy. But chef chef Martina Caruso gives us some useful tip

As common mortals we are facing weeks that will very likely be full of cofane of pasta: very large pots ready to be filled in the strangest morning hours with penne or spaghetti. With the risk of serving sticky and heavy dishes and/or always seasoned without enough sauce. In order to prevent the risk of failure, we asked Martina Caruso, a very young chef (yet already holding a shiny Milchelin star) working at hotel Signum in Salina (Messina).
A few weeks ago she served us an exemplary midnight “spaghettata”: 5 kilos of Busiate – a sort of Sicilian fusilli made by twisting them around a branch of buso, the trunk ampelodesmos – with cherry tomatoes, garlic, oil, chilli pepper, capers and parsley. And here are some precious tips from the chef.

In case of large quantities, always prefer short pasta instead of spaghetti: they’re much easier to handle. Should you use spaghetti, finish the cooking in the pan (risottati).

If you don’t have boilers, the ratio between cooking water and pasta is 5/7 litres per kilogram of durum wheat.

Martina Caruso, 26 anni, una stella Michelin

Martina Caruso, 26 anni, una stella Michelin

Never discard the cooking water when draining the pasta: you’ll need it to soften the pasta a little, should it be too dry.
When in doubt whether to make too little or too much sauce, always opt for the second option. Should there be some left over sauce, you can always use it in other ways.

Pasta with tomato sauce: opt for cherry tomatoes, they bond better with short pasta compared to other varieties. 
Grana Padano or Parmigiano are essential when finishing the dish. Do not exaggerate: 4 tablespoons is the maximum needed for 5 kilos of pasta. This way you avoid overkilling the flavour of the tomatoes which must prevail on everything else.

Should you really want to understand how talented this girl is with moderate quantities, ask for one of the three dishes of durum wheat pasta in the menu at the gourmet restaurant: Spaghetti garlic, oil and chilli pepper in seafood guazzetto with parsley sauce; Linguine with almond milk and clams and Fusilloni with fiore sicano cheese and smoked mackerel tomato and apple.