RECIPES: Italian Cooking With Mario Batali

Celebrity chef Mario Batali, master of the "less is more" technique, has taken the Italian restaurant scene by storm. Here, he offers two balanced and simple recipes: Spaghetti Siciliani, and Bucatini All'Amatriciana.

SPAGHETTI SICILIANI

Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

Serves four

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, julienned
1 zucchini, cut into half moons
1 yellow squash, cut into half moons
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
1 fresh chili, sliced thin
1 cup basic tomato sauce (see tomato sauce recipe, below)
1 tablespoon toasted bread crumbs
1 tablespoon mint, torn
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bottarga, to taste

Instructions:

Bring 6 quarts of water to boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

In a 12 to 14 inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil until smoking. Add the red onions and slightly caramelize until light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, squash, garlic and chilies and cook until the squash is al dente, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions, until tender, yet al dente, and drain.

While the pasta cooks, in the same pan as the squash and zucchini mixture, heat the tomato sauce to a simmer.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauté pan, along with the bread crumbs and mint. Toss over medium heat to coat with the sauce, about 30 seconds. Divide among four heated bowls, sprinkle with black pepper and bottarga and serve immediately.

BASIC TOMATO SAUCE

Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

Makes four cups

Ingredients:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tablespoon dried
½ medium carrot, finely shredded
2 28-ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes
Kosher salt, to taste

Instructions:

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8-10 minutes.

Add the thyme and carrot and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the carrot is quite soft.

With your hands, crush the tomatoes and add them with their juices. Bring to a boil, stirring often, and then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is as thick as hot cereal.

Season with salt and serve.

BUCATINI ALL'AMATRICIANA

Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

Serves four

Ingredients:

¾ pound guanciale*, or pancetta, thinly sliced (can also substitute good quality bacon)
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion, halved and sliced ½ inch thick
1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups basic tomato sauce
1 pound bucatini (a type of spaghetti that has a hole in the center)
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
Pecorino Romano, for grating

Instructions:

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

Place the guanciale slices in a 12 to 14 inch sauté pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions, garlic and guanciale are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce. Add the parsley leaves, increase the heat to high and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

*Guanciale is a pig's jowl or cheeks. It is cured like bacon and Batali says it has a "remarkable round flavor."

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