The Wonders of Pasta Alla Gricia
Take the classic recipe in a different direction with slow-cooker butter beans, pecorino and pancetta.
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By Melissa Clark
Pasta alla gricia (above) is one of those spectacular, simple dishes that is so emblematic of Roman cooking. You’ll find it on the menu in almost every trattoria in Rome, where the dish is beloved by locals as well as tourists. And it couldn’t be easier to make at home. Take a few really good ingredients, treat them with care and you’ll end up with a mind-blowing meal that transcends the basic-seeming mix of cured pork, cheese, pasta and pepper. It’s like magic.
The recipe is arguably foundational, as Ali Slagle explains for her salami pasta alla gricia, and transforms depending on what direction you take it in. “Add tomato for amatriciana, add egg for carbonara or remove the pork for cacio e pepe,” she writes.
Sarah DiGregorio has a fantastic new recipe based on the flavors of pasta alla gricia, but applied instead to velvety soft butter beans. Made in a slow-cooker, the beans are gently stewed with pecorino and pancetta until they are tender and become imbued with brawny flavor from the cured meat. Serve it with a bitter greens salad and maybe a glass of your favorite Italian red wine, and you’ll have a feast that can transport you straight to the Roman trattoria of your dreams.
Also full of beans — in the positive, energetic way — is loubia from Nargisse Benkabbou. A Moroccan white bean stew seasoned with warm spices including paprika, ginger and turmeric, it makes for a satisfying meal that happens to be vegan. Or try a pot of Tunisian lablali, a thick chickpea soup with harissa. You could serve either with a sliced orange and persimmon salad to add juiciness and tang.
Beans not a favorite in your home? In his column in The New York Times Magazine this week, Bryan Washington writes about chicken doria: a Japanese gratin of chicken, rice and greens baked in a cream sauce that’s in the canon of yōshoku (Western-inspired) meals. That could be perfectly comforting for the shoulder season.
And for dessert? How about David Tanis’s delicate tangerine flan with its exquisite citrusy caramel sauce? Try it with a few of Genevieve Ko’s wonderful chocolate hazelnut cookies for crunch.
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You can also find us on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, where Yewande Komolafe demonstrates three of her fantastic soup recipes, all of which can be made in a blender. There’s her spicy peanut and pumpkin soup with a creamy swirl of crème fraiche; a silky butternut squash soup spiked with rice vinegar; and a ginger-cauliflower soup suffused with lemongrass and lime.
If you run into any technical issues, you can email [email protected] And I’m at [email protected] if you want to send a note my way. I can’t answer them all, but I read every single one.
“Of all the foods, it’s the most believable to me that a good soup or stew could change the course of the story,” Joe Pera says in his quiet, soothing voice in this episode of his “Drifting Off” podcast. I couldn’t agree more. His recipe for minestrone isn’t the classic version — he adds a ham bone — but it does sound delicious.
Sam Sifton is back on Friday, and I’ll be here on Monday.
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