Monday, March 23, 2015

16th Century Lenten Pasta Dish

255. Several ways to make and cook macaroni for a day in Lent.
Get a pound of fine flour and a pound of grated bread that has been put through a fine sieve, and make up a dough with boiling water and olive oil mixed with a little saffron.  On a table make the dough so it is not too firm, but well mixed together.  When it is warmed up make the gnocchi - that is, macaroni- on the cheese grater and put them to cook in lightly salted boiling water.  When they are done, take them out and put them into an earthenware or wooden vessel, putting on them a garlic sauce made with ground walnuts, cloves of garlic, pepper and breadcrumb that has been moistened in hot water.  Mix everything together and serve it garnished with pepper and cinnamon.   - The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570) translated by Terence Scully

So, I didn't make the macaroni. I did call up my Mom and ask if I was a bad Italian for using Penne rather than macaroni. She laughed - not only does she do the same thing but my great Aunt (who is 93) called Mom up a few minutes before to ask a similar question - but in regards to chicken broth. Basically, I'm not a bad Italian and it's hereditary. :-)

Sorry I haven't made anything for the Historical Fortnightly in about a month. I was going to make gingerbread last week (sandlewood and long pepper!) but I ended up getting wrapped up in other things.

Anyway, back to the not-macaroni. I cooked whole wheat penne in salt water. Not exactly difficult.

The sauce recipe:

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of warm water
1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon ish of black pepper
1/2 cup of walnuts - ground up
1 teaspoon of salt

I first ground up the walnuts in the very period blender. I also added hot water to my already somewhat ground up breadcrumbs because I really was going to make gingerbread and just never got around to it. Since I didn't have garlic cloves (mine were dead), I used garlic powder. I threw this all in the pot to heat up with pepper. Unfortunately, it had the consistency of...vomit. Really, there is no other way to describe it. So, I added some more water and threw the sauce into the blender. About 20 seconds later, it looked much more like a sauce. However, it tasted like garlic flavored breadcrumbs. So I added salt which helped a lot - now it tastes like garlic bread on pasta. :-) I probably could add some olive oil to the mix to make it more yummy for a modern pallet.

This is after adding the cinnamon and even more pepper on the pasta dish. It really looks like a white sauce on pasta. Later in the recipe, it says a green sauce is also good. I might try that later.


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