We’ve been on a real pasta kick lately. Probably because WE WENT TO ITALY! Say whaaaaaaat!? (I’ve been told my references and basic communication style is somewhat, shall we say, outdated. …I think I understand.)
Anywho! (oh boy) We’ve wanted to go to Italy for a long time and honestly, what held us back was thinking that it had to be a massive 3 week minimum trip where we hit as many places as possible because, where do you even start!? But then we remembered one crucial thing: we live in France! Meaning, Italy is literally next door. We could drive to Milan in less time than it takes to go from Moncton to Montreal. That’s a very specific east coast (of Canada) reference, but I believe we’ve already established that I’m not exactly hitting global relevance… The point is we could affordably travel to any city and just stay put and really get a feel for it. And then when we’ve saved up a bit we can pick another city and check that one out. Being a grown-up is fun!
So where does one start with Italy? Well, we started with Rome. It’s the capital, there’s loads of important historical sites, Audrey Hepburn got a super cute haircut there, and Air France was having a deal.
Oh and also, we went there for FOOD. I remember Mathias saying before we went that he was worried that the reality might not stand up to the hype. We have actually heard of people who went to Italy and came back saying “Meh, I prefer the pizza from Pizza Hut.” (These are not people in our close circle, obviously.) So would it meet our expectations?
Rest assured, it surpassed. The city and the food completely charmed us. We were determined to take in as much Roman food as we possibly could, and as far as personal challenges go, I’ve gotta say that was a fun one.
What struck us most was the simplicity of the food. Whereas French recipes tend to be complex and precise, the food we had in Rome was approachably rustic and extremely focused on the very few ingredients a dish featured. We saw that each eatery had it’s own spin while still honouring the main ingredient. For example, I wanted to try artichoke. So I ordered the Jewish-style (fried) artichoke: carciofi alla giudia, and that’s exactly what came to the table. No sauce, no frills. Just an entire yummy fried artichoke. I also tried the Roman-style (braised) artichoke: carciofi alla romana, and guess what was served. Why an entired braised artichoke of course! Dressed simply with olive oil and parsley. Stunning!
Maybe artichoke isn’t the sexiest example, but I loved it. And from what I gathered, pasta is approached with the same mindset. The idea being that the pasta is the star, no need to drown it in sauce or bog it down with 30 ingredients.
We came home with our passion for pasta reignited. We started making it at home a couple times a week just to relax. And it really is such a satisfying thing to make by hand. THAT SAID, I am not going to lie to you and pretend we don’t keep dried pasta on hand, because we totally do! (De Cecco being my favourite brand.) There is absolutely nothing wrong with using dried pasta. The advantage being time of course but also, when you can’t make it to the store and you’ve got to throw a meal together using whatever scraps and leftovers are in the fridge… pasta to the rescue!
Enter: today’s recipe for roast chicken pasta.
Roasting a whole chicken has always been my go-to for getting a few meals out of one protein. But I often find myself with the last scraps of chicken, wondering what to throw together. That’s how this dish came to be. It’s nothing sensational, just a hearty pasta dish using up scraps from the fridge. Feel free to swap out or omit anything I’ve listed. These were simply the scraps in my fridge, but feel free to poke around your own. Use whatever you’ve got on hand, but don’t go crazy. Make sure to enjoy the pasta itself!
fusilli corti bucati or cavatappi pasta
1/2 onion, chopped (even better: leftover onion that roasted with the chicken)
preserved lemon (I used the lemon slices I had pushed under the chicken skin to roast)
1/2 zucchini, grated
leftover roast chicken, chopped
firm cheese, grated
fresh basil, thinly sliced
cracked black pepper
Prep your ingredients. Cook the pasta until al dente then drain, reserving some of the pasta water. Over low heat, combine ingredients with the pasta and incorporate however much of the pasta water you want to have a loose, creamy consistency. Season and serve.
Rome, check! Where to next, I wonder..?