Recipes of Northern Italy

Serves as many as you dare...

What you need
A warm heart and loving hands!

Northern Italian Cusine

How to
      My Dad, coming from the North of Italy, in Trieste, passed down his love of certain dishes, and some of the recipes, from his mom to mine, and then to us. (Some I have had to adapt based on memory).  Although some may not be my favorite, everyone of them were dishes we grew up eating, and listening to the stories that came with them.  It is because of this I still make them today, and hope they will continue to be passed on:

In the recipes that follow, you see a sampling of Northern Italian delicacies, and what follows, pasta fagioli, gnocchi, pasta, polenta recipes...., well, thanks Dad, there's so much to choose from.

Here is a little bit of history I found on the foods of Northern Italy:  " It seems as each region of Italy has its own unique cuisine but on the whole the Italian cuisine stands unified with a lot of depth and variance in it.  However, there is a great difference between the North and the rest of the Peninsula. One of the most striking differences is that whereas the rest of Italy is fond of using olive oil for its cooking the Northern regions are fonder of using butter. When it comes to pasta you will be able to find a wide variety of different dishes in the North. Stuffed pasta is not as popular.  In fact, the extruded form of pasta that is the most important pasta in the south is not given very much importance in the North.  Polenta is their substitute for pasta up North, as is one of the most famous rice dish of Italy known as Risotto, coming from the Northwest.  Whereas pasta is considered to be the most commonly.  
   As for the meat, Beef, veal and pork are amongst the most popular meats of the region. In the North, lamb is not given due importance. The Northern people use a much lesser amount of tomatoes, instead making use of broth as the liquid and a variety of chopped herbs to give their food flavor.  Fish is also an important part of the cuisine of the Northern areas. The region of Comachhio that falls south of the Po Delta is famous for its eels and Veneto’s coastal lowlands are rich with mussels and clams. There are many lakes and waterways inland that have a great variety of fresh water fish along with other wild birds and ducks." 

Information credit: Giuntas Meat Farms.
photo credit: Mezzaluna Restaurant.

Serves 6

What you need

 This recipe, from Jaime Oliver, uses luscious lemons to flavor linguini with a surprisingly creamy sauce, and here in the US, Meyer Lemons would be perfect – if you can’t find any, use regular lemons instead. This one is quick, simple and perfect for that summertime craving for pasta.**

• 1 lb dried linguine pasta  • juice of 3 Sicilian lemons and zest of 1  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  • 1/4lb (a good handful) Parmesan cheese, grated  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper  • a large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and finely chopped  • a handful of Arugula, chopped (In Italy, they use "Rocket" which is a common salad ingredient, a peppery type of small lettuce, similar to Arugula here.  We'll use arugula, it adds a nice bite to the pasta & lemon)

**To satisfy those really big cravings for pastas with cheese and cream, scroll down and they will be there for you.

Lemon Linguini

How to
Cook the linguine in a generous amount of boiling, salted water for about 10 - 12 minutes, then drain thoroughly and return to the saucepan. Meanwhile, beat the lemon juice and zest with the olive oil, then stir in the Parmesan – it’ll go thick and creamy. Season and add more lemon juice if needed. Add the lemon sauce to the linguine and shake the pan to coat each strand of pasta with the sauce (the Parmesan will melt when mixed with the pasta). Finish by stirring in the chopped basil and the rocket

Serves 4

What you need


Kosher salt
1/2 cup orzo
4 cups spinach, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced thinly
1/2 red onion (or vidalia if possible), quartered and thinly sliced
1/4 cup pitted oil-cured olives, chopped
1 cup arugula, chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

SHRIMP SALAD, SPINACH & ORZO (main course salad)

How to

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and shake dry.

Meanwhile, toss the spinach, cucumber, onion, olives, arugula, parsley and lemon juice and olive oil in a large serving bowl (reserving 2 tbsps of lemon juice and oil for the shrimp later). Add the orzo and season with salt and pepper.

In a medium sautee pan, cook the shrimp with the remaining 2 tablespoons each lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl until slightly pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and broil until just cooked through, 2 to 3 more minutes. This is where I would add a little spice if you prefer that (crushed red pepper or even a chili sauce).

Top the orzo salad with the shrimp, sprinkle with the feta and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy

Serves 4

What you need

Probably lemon chicken is the only recipe name popular in many cultures but the dish itself is different for each culture. Here is an easy to make Italian version of the recipe.  (I think the oregano makes it Italian)

  • 4 Chicken leg quarters
  • 2 Lemons or Limes
  • 2 tsp. Black pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Chili flakes
  • 3 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro (Coriander leaf)
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano leaves dried or fresh
  • Oil for basting

Italian Lemon Chicken

How to

Preheat oven at 375 F degree (190C).
Wash and pat dry chicken leg quarters.If you want you can cut it in two pieces.
Cut thinly Oregano and Cilantro
Mix Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper powders.
Rub this mixture on both sides of Chicken.
Rub with Oregano and Cilantro.
Arrange in a baking tray, skin side up.
Bake it for 45 minutes then apply oil or butter occasionally.
Bake for another 15-20 minutes depending upon the size of Chicken legs, remove from heat when it turns golden brown.  Enjoy. 

Serves 4-6

What you need
Once considered peasant food, versatile polenta becomes a delicious, satisfying side dish with the addition of fresh sage, bacon and corn. Recipe below.
Traditional polenta is generally slow cooked to a creamy consistency and usually includes some kind of cheese. It sets up pretty firmly as it cools and can be cut into squares or sticks or shaped into balls and fried for a completely different approach. In our family, it never was allowed to get too firm. it was meant to be smooth and creamy, always. Since Polenta is generally very bland on its own, when I came across this adaptation from a recipe in Bon Ape'tite, I just had to repost it:

4 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
4 cups water, plus extra as needed
1 cup polenta, traditional or quick cook, but not precooked tubes [see Kitchen Notes—seriously]
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
slat and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Polenta w/Bacon, Sage and Corn *adapted from Bon Appetite

How to

Cook bacon in heavy, large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp [I used a 5-quart sauté pan, which was perfect, but you could also use a sauce pan]. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet. Add sage and corn; sauté 1 minute. Add 4 cups water and increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Gradually whisk in polenta.

Reduce heat to low; cook until polenta begins to thicken, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes, if you’re using traditional polenta. For quick cooking polenta, total cooking time will be about 5 minutes. Also, as you “gradually” stir it in, it will thicken quickly—alarmingly even. If needed, add more water 1/2 cup at a time. Being stuck with the quick-cooking variety, I ended up adding a little more than a cup of extra water. Stir in Parmesan cheese and bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

What you need

1 box ditalini pasta
2 cans cannelini beans (do not drain)
[this is the only time you will see me write that!]
1/3 (at least) cup canola oil.
3 - 4 tbs garlic (minced, paste or powder) depending on your taste
1 tbs oregano
A dash of salt (there is usually enough in the undrained beans)
Grated Parmesan and/or Crushed Red Pepper flakes.

Pasta Fagioli

How to
In a medium sauce pain heat oil, garlic, and oregano until just sizzling. Add the beans (along with all that stuff from the can). Let simmer 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions until al dente.
Drain pasta, place into serving bowl and mix with bean mixture.

You can serve this with grated cheese, or red pepper or both.

Serves 4 - 6

What you need

   There are so many possible variations to this recipe. Instead of cauliflower, you can substitute broccoli rabe, kale or collards. When you're heating the garlic and oil, you can add anchovies, capers, pine nuts or dried red pepper flakes -- some or all of them. I like to add chopped onion when I sautee' the garlic. You can toss crumbled cooked sausage meat or chopped shrimp into the garlic mixture for a heartier meal. I personally prefer to garnish with chopped parsley, basil and grated Parmesan.
  • 1 head cauliflower, about 1 pound, cut into bite size florets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound penne, fusilli or other pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (or more if you like)
  • 1 cup coarse bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Pasta with Cauliflower, oil & garlic

How to
Prepare sauce: Heat olive oil minced garlic* (this is where you would add any additional ingredients like red pepper and anchovy paste). Saute until garlic is light golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes, watching carefully. When done, remove from heat.
In a small bowl mix bread crumbs and butter and toast about 5 minutes. I do this in my toaster oven, but you can use your oven also. Put crumbs aside.

Cook pasta in salted boiling water as directed in a large pot. Add cauliflower to pasta and water about 4-5 minutes before the pasta would be done. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water then d rain pasta & cauliflower, place in serving bowl along with the garlic and oil sauce, grated parmesan and enough pasta water to get the consistency you want. Toss well. Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs.

*I add 1/2 pkg frozen or 1/2 diced small onion, and saute them first then add the garlic, and proceed as directed.
**Alternatively, you can steam and then sautee' the cut cauliflower florets with the garlic and oil, then mix that with the pasta water. I'm not into that extra work.

Serves 2 (can be easily doubled)

What you need
Though there is that last minute stirring, everything else can be prepared ahead of time.


1 to 1½ lb. lobster, cooked
¾ c. Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone nano rice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 c. minced shallots, preferred, or onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 c. dry or bianco vermouth
1 tsp. dried tarragon
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste
1 T. each of minced fresh tarragon and flat leaf parsley

Note: Crab legs or shrimp can be substituted for the lobster, or use them in combination. Use the same amount of cooked crab as lobster, or ¾ lbs. uncooked shrimp, using shells as above. Add shelled, uncooked shrimp to the risotto a couple minutes before finishing.

Lobster Risotto

How to
Shell lobsters, keeping the claw meat intact if possible. This is easiest to do by cutting the clawshells with kitchen shears. If you’ve been able to keep them whole, set aside. Otherwise, add the claw meat pieces to the rest of the lobster meat, cut into bite-sized chunks, along with any bright red roe. The roe is found in females and is considered a delicacy. During cooking, it will have solidified into clumps; roll the clumps gently between your fingers to separate the tiny eggs, then add to the reserved meat. The flavorful greenish tomalley inside the body cavity is the lobster’s “liver.” Reserve it separately to add to the stock.

Discard the cartilage and body sac. Cut the thinner, more pliable parts of the shell into small pieces with kitchen shears; crush the harder claw shells with a clean hammer or mallet.

Combine crushed shells and chicken stock in a pot, and simmer over very low heat. The mixture should barely simmer (an occasional bubble lazily rising to the surface), covered, for an hour. Before beginning the risotto, strain stock through a fine mesh sieve, add the reserved tomalley, and keep warm on the stove.

In a medium heavy pan, melt the butter over medium low heat, then add the shallots and sauté until they are soft but not brown. Add the rice and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring so the rice is thoroughly coated and absorbs the butter. Add the tomato paste and cook a couple minutes longer, until the tomato paste just begins to darken. Add the tarragon and vermouth and cook until it’s almost completely absorbed. Ladle stock into the pan until the rice is completely covered to about ½ inch of liquid above the rice. Stir slowly but constantly. The rice will gradually absorb the liquid. When enough liquid has been absorbed so that none is above the rice, ladle in more stock to again cover by ½ inch. Continue stirring and adding more stock until the rice is “al dente” tender, but still firm (although completely cooked). This should take 18-20 minutes. The mixture should be quite liquid — “saucy.” You may or may not use all the stock.

Gently stir in the reserved lobster meat and cook just until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Gently warm reserved lobster claws in a microwave or on a stove. Serve in shallow soup plates or wide-rimmed plates, garnished with the claw meat (if possible), sprinkled with the fresh tarragon and parsley.

Serves 6 (suitable for freezing, 3 dinners for 2 people)

What you need
     This recipe is from a 1980′s book for Northern Italian cooking;  An array of meals can be made with Gnocchi such as Gnocchi with some pecorino cheese, salt, pepper and basil or Gnocchi with a creamy sundried tomato sauce. Create your own with what’s in your fridge, or scroll down for a few examples :

Ingredients for Potato Gnocchi
8 medium potatoes
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of salt
2 to 2.5 cups of plain flour
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Ingredients for Ricotta Gnocchi
1 16 oz whole-milk ricotta, drained
1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1 large egg
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of parmesan reggiano, grated

Gnocchi - Potato & Riccotta

How to

Boil potatoes with skins on. Remove skin and mash the potatoes. Add egg yolk, salt and flour. Mix well. Knead into a ball. You may need more flour if the mixture is sticky. Break dough into smaller balls. Shape balls into rolls the thickness of your thumb. Using a fork cut each dumpling and press the dumpling against the outside of the curve of the fork at the tip end. Quickly slide the dumpling up the tine, pressing with index finger then let the dumping fall down to the working surface. This tedious task imprints groves into the dumpling to allow the sauce to be absorbed – this can be skipped. Arrange dumplings onto a floured tray or plate. Freeze a batch and cook what you need.

To cook, bring a pan of water to boil, put in a teaspoon of oil and the dumplings. When the dumpings rise to the surface, wait 10 second then scoop them out.
To cook frozen do not defrost the dumpling, throw them straight into boiling water


First, you need to get as much moisture out of the ricotta cheese as possible. You do this by placing it in a mesh strainer, lined with a coffee filter if you have it. Cover the cheese, place in the refrigerator, and let this rest and drain for about 45 minutes. During this time, feel free to prep your basil, parsley, puree the tomatoes, and get your breadcrumbs made.

Get a large bowl out, and remove the ricotta cheese from the strainer, placing it in the bowl. Add in the egg, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil, and combine to get a smooth mix. Add in the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and flour. Combine to make a nice dough. Keep in mind, due to the creaminess of the cheese, the dough is a bit soft, not too firm. If it is too sticky, add in a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time.  Six tablespoons is just the right amount. You can test this out by forming into a small ball, and make sure it does not stick too severely to your hands. Cover the dough and place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This stiffens the dough a bit and will help you with the next process.

Once your water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, a simmer, as you don’t want your gnocchi to fall apart on you.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Grab a small chunk, and roll into a the size of a lime. Get a working surface ready, and some more flour. Sprinkle your board with a bit of flour, and heck, get your hands ready as well. Put the ball on the surface, and roll it out into a log, not too thin though, about 3/4 inch. Once it is roped out, get a knife and cut about a 3/4 inch pieces. Continue this process with your remaining dough.

Now this recipe probably makes about 60-75 gnocchi, so if you are only serving a couple, you can place your remaining items on a sheet, place in the freezer to harden, then place in a ziplock bag, and bag in the freezer.

To cook, place the gnocchi into the simmering water. They drop to the bottom, then in about 30 seconds, they begin to float to the top. Remember now, that you are dealing with some fragile ingredients, basically soft cheese and flour, meaning, it doesn’t take long at all to cook. Once they pop to the top, cook for about 2 more minutes. Serve immediately.
As for me, I think both recipes are way to much time-involved, and since I'm about making your life simple, not complicated, you could skip all the prep and stop by your local Italian market and pick some up already frozen,(made with either ricotta or potato) then spend your precious time making the sauce!
See below for pasta/gnocchi sauces.

Serves a couple or a crowd

What you need
1.  First thing, I think that homemade Gnocchi or pasta is best with a SIMPLE LIGHT TOMATO SAUCE.  Saute' a few tablespoons of garlic & onion in a bit of olive oil, add fresh diced tomatoes and fresh basil, take it off the stove.  You don't need a lot of measurements here.  You can even use canned diced tomatoes if that's all that is available. With this one, you can't go wrong.

Pesto is a fresh sauce made from basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil. This pesto sauce recipe is perfect for pasta and gnocchi.
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and dried (about 1 large bunch)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Combine all the ingredients except the cheese in a food processor. Pulse until the pesto is blended into a slightly coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.To serve with pasta, you can toss the cooked pasta directly with the pesto. Or, if you want to thin out the pesto sauce a little, add a spoonful or two of the hot pasta water to the pesto, then toss with the cooked pasta and serve right away

    This classic Italian meat sauce is amazing for spaghetti and other pasta as well as lasagna. This meat sauce recipe is made with ground beef and pork for a rich, meaty flavor.  Sometimes we will use meatballs instead of ground beef, or for a different flavor, chicken insteat of beef and pork. 
  • 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes, with liquid
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ lbs. ground beef
  • ¾ lbs. ground pork
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil for a minute over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots, and sauté for a bit until the onions are translucent but not brown.  Add the tomatoes and the garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce is slightly reduced.
  • Meanwhile, brown the meat in a separate skillet in a small amount of oil. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  • Add the browned meat along with the stock and herbs, and water if necessary. Simmer for 1 hour, uncovered.
  • Adjust thickness with additional stock if desired. Season to taste with Kosher salt and sugar, and serve right away.
  • Makes about 2 quarts of meat sauce

The classic Fettuccine Alfredo is made with this alfredo sauce recipe. Add some cooked chicken to make Chicken Alfredo.  As you can see, the list of Alfredo Sauce ingredients is pretty basic. But the flavor will come through in a big way.
         2 cups heavy cream 
         1 stick butter 
         1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese 
         2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 

  • In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and cream over medium-low heat until it starts to bubble. Lower heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced somewhat. Remove from heat and cover.
  • Add the cheese and toss until fully mixed. Adjust consistency with additional cream if necessary.
  • Stir in the chopped parsley. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss with the hot cooked pasta of your choice and serve right away.

This simple tomato cream sauce is perfect for any kind of pasta.

  • 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes, with liquid
  • 4 oz (1 stick) butter
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  •  In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the butter for a minute over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots, and sauté for a bit until the onions are translucent but not brown.
        Add the tomatoes and the garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce is slightly reduced. 
       Add the cream and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.  Season to taste with Kosher salt and sugar and serve right aw
  • ay.  Makes about 2 quarts of tomato cream sauce.
  • Sauces for Gnocchi, Pasta...whatever you want to do with them!

    How to
         Throughout these pages you have also seen recipes for so much more.  Lemon Pasta, Carbonara, White Beans, and so much more.  If you keep reading, I'll keep adding.  If there is a particular sauce you are looking for but don't see, just ask Deb.  I'll find it for you.  

    Serves 4 - 6

    What you need

    Kosher salt
    12 ounces fusilli or other corkscrew pasta
    1 pkg frozen assorted pepper strips
    1 pkg frozen sugar snap peas (or any other vege you like)
    2 carrots, shredded
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    2 tbs garlic, minced
    1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh spinach or arugula
    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
    4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

    Pasta Primavera

    How to
    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fusilli (or another pasta if you prefer) and cook as the label directs. Add the frozen vegetables and carrots to the boiling water during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and vegetables and return to the pot.

    Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water. Pour the tomato mixture over the pasta and vegetables. Add the spinach or arugula, parmesan and half the goat cheese and toss to combine. Season with salt.

    Divide the pasta among bowls. Top with the remaining goat cheese and drizzle with olive oil.

    Photograph by Antonis Achilleos

    Serves 6

    What you need
         This recipe, from Jaime Oliver, is a classic Carbonara pasta sauce made with cream, bacon and Parmesan and is absolutely delicious. Try The best ingredients are what really helps to make this dish amazing. This recipe uses a flowering variety of thyme but normal thyme is fine. When it comes to the type of pasta , you can serve carbonara with spaghetti or linguine, but its been saied that Italian mammas (who I don’t argue with!) that penne is the original.  This particular version is made with small summer squash.  You can leave them in or out without affecting the recipe.  Before you start cooking, it’s important to get yourself a very large pan, or use a high-sided roasting tray so you can give the pasta a good toss . A real Carbonara may be a bit of work to make, but its so worth the effort. 

    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 6 medium green and yellow courgettes (squash)
    • 1lb or so of penne
    • 4 large free-range or organic egg yolks
    • 1/2 c. double cream (heavy cream)
    • 2 good handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • olive oil
    • 12 thick slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into chunky lardoons
    • a small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped, flowers reserved (if you can get hold of flowering thyme)
    • optional: a few courgette flowers

    Beautiful Corgette (summer squash) Carbonara

    How to
    Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Halve and then quarter any larger courgettes lengthways. Cut out and discard any fluffy middle bits, and slice the courgettes at an angle into pieces roughly the same size and shape as the penne. Smaller courgettes can simply be sliced finely. Your water will now be boiling, so add the penne to the pan and cook according to the packet instructions.

    To make your creamy carbonara sauce, put the
    egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season lightly and put to one side.

    Heat a very large frying pan (a 12 inch one is a good start – every house should have one!), add a good splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until dark brown and crisp. Add the courgette slices and 2 big pinches of black pepper, not just to season but to give it a bit of a kick. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves, give everything a stir, so the courgettes become coated with all the lovely bacon-flavored oil, and fry until they start to turn lightly golden and have softened slightly.

    It’s very important to get this next bit right or your carbonara could end up ruined. You need to work quickly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water. Immediately, toss the pasta
    in the pan with the courgettes, bacon and lovely flavours, then remove from the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs.)

    Get everyone around the table, ready to eat straight away. While you’re tossing the pasta and sauce, sprinkle in the rest of the Parmesan and a little more of the cooking water if needed, to give you a silky and shiny sauce. If you have any courgette flowers, tear them over the top, then serve and eat immediately, as the sauce can become thick and stodgy if left too long.

    Serves 6

    What you need

       An easy but unusual pasta dish with a distinctive flavour.  If you're a fan of gorgonzola, its pure heaven.  If not, use a milder blue cheese (ask at your local market cheese counter) and you will still love it. 
       Gorgonzola cheese has a very long history, in fact it has been produced in Northern Italy for over 1000 years. It is a cow milk cheese with added lactic bacteria and mould spores to give its characteristic blue-green veins. Gorgonzola is used very often in Northern Italian cooking but it is also eaten on its own.
       Serve this along with a nice mixed greens salad, or even an arugula salad

    1 lb  pasta (preferably penne)-
    2 bulbs fennel -
    4 tablespoons olive oil -
    1 / 2 red pepper -
    1 3/4 c. Gorgonzola -
    1 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese -
    salt to taste
    2 medium sized shallots

    Grandma Anna's Gorgonzola Penne

    How to

    In a saucepan with salted water cook the pasta per package directions, until al dente.  Reserve 2 c. pasta water. Finely chop shallots and sauté in the oil and add two fennels that you have previously sliced thinly, salt and cook at low heat and if necessary add a few tablespoons of cooking water not to allow it to get too dry.  Chop the pepper and gorgonzola into pieces and stir well.

    Once properly cooked, drain the pasta and transfer it into the sauce, mixing thoroughly with a wooden spoon and add the Parmesan cheese. Serve.

    For more information on this recipe and may others from where this was taken see:

    Serves 4

    What you need
         Thank you to Everyday with Rachael Ray for this incredible recipe for double meat ragu of veal and pork with mushrooms.  Its indescribably good.

    1 handful dried porchini mushrooms
    1 1/4 - 2 cups vegetable stock or water
    Salt and pepper
    1 pound bucatini (hollow spaghetti) or pici (fat spaghetti, not hollow)
    2 tablespoons EVOO
    1 pound ground veal, patted dry
    1/3 pound bulk sweet italian pork sausage
    1 small carrot, finely chopped or grated
    1 small rib celery with leafy top, finely chopped
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    3 - 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    10 - 12 small sage leaves, thinly sliced
    3 tablespoons tomato paste
    1 cup dry white wine
    3/4 cup milk
    Grated pecorino-romano, for serving

    White Meat Ragu Pasta

    How to
    1. Place the mushrooms in a small saucepan and cover with the stock (or water); bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer on very low heat to reconstitute (or pour 1 cup boiling water over them, cover and let stand for 10 minutes).
    2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
    3. While the pasta is working in a heavy pot, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over high heat until smoking. Stir in the veal to brown slightly, then stir in the sausage, crumbling the meat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic and sage; season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the wine to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
    4. Remove the mushrooms from their soaking liquid and chop. Stir into the ragu with their strained liquid. Stir in the milk, lower the heat to medium-high and cook to thicken.
    5. Stir the reserved 1 cup pasta cooking water into the ragu. Add the pasta and toss. Top with a liberal amount of cheese.