Celebrate with a classic…
In the 80s, after a short stint at the Cordon Bleu in London, I apprenticed in the tiny mountain town of Borgo Capanne, not far from Bologna. There I learned to make pasta as only you can by having your belly pressed against a cutting board for months. It was an education in the texture of the dough; how you handle a sheet of pasta, how you can stretch it and shape it. Lessons learned only after weeks or months, watching a master at work.
Pasta shapes adapt to different condiments. Orecchiette, for example, are typically prepared with vegetables, most often brocolli or cime di rapa (brocolli rabe) and combined with garlic, anchovies and chile. But every town has its own variation on both the pasta and the sauce.
The best course of action is always to go to the local greenmarket. Find whatever vegetable is in season; cut it into cubes the size of your thumbnail. Sauté with a little garlic- and, if you’re so inclined, a little pancetta or bacon. Oil, vegetable, pancetta. Finish with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and you will be happy.
Spaghetti is an especially versatile noodle. But in honor of National Pasta Day, go with a classic: cacio e pepe.