Last night we hosted friends for a traditional Northern Italian dinner, with the main course of homemade Italian pasta with tomato ragu. This is our fourth Gourmet Dinner Club and it was Dan and my turn to host. Need a refresher? Here’s my blog for our first dinner.
I spent weeks thinking about a theme for this dinner. I wanted a theme appropriate for winter with warm, hearty foods. Plus, I’m always looking for an excuse to whip out the pasta roller. Italian was the winner! But specifically, Northern Italian. Northern and Southern Italian cuisines are entirely different. I did an entire project on the differences in my Food and Culture college class (the only culinary education I have). Here are the basics:
- Southern Italian = seafood, tomato sauces, fresh
- Northern Italian = creamy sauces, thick ragu, hearty meat, potato dishes
The night started with Alicia and Danny’s tasty appetizers. Alicia made homemade focaccia crostini with homemade ricotta, braised white beans, and broccoli rabe. I have truly never liked broccoli rabe more. She also made prosciutto-wrapped gorgonzola bites for a tangy and salty contrast to the rustic crostini.
I talk a lot about balance, right? To even out our hearty Northern Italian meal, Steph and Joe brought a fresh salad with feta cheese, tomatoes, peppadew peppers, asparagus, and cucumber. She is a dietician and my unintentional recommendation that she bring a salad was the perfect fit!
This pasta is a classic Piedmont dish, tajarin pasta (pronounced ta-yah-reen). Tajarin is made using egg yolks and has a yellow color, without the use of semolina. It uses a lot of egg yolks but is otherwise simple and easy to make using the Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment. It was fun to share the fine of rolling and cutting pasta.
The ragu builds lots of flavor in a short amount of time, using beef stock and high-quality tomatoes. The sauce is great with veal, but ground veal can be hard to find or expensive. I opted for an Italian meat combination from our local butcher of beef, pork, and veal.
This recipe will make extra sauce, which can be used later in the week, sent home with guests, or frozen for later use. I’m already looking forward to using our leftovers later this week for a quick weeknight pasta dish.
We ended the night with Jenn and Eric’s gorgeous tiramisu, a final glass of wine, and a lively game of FunEmployed (if you don’t have this game, GET IT).