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EASTER

An Italian recipe for Easter: How to make asparagus and prawn risotto

Looking for some culinary inspiration this Easter, beyond one that involves chocolate? Monica Cesarato, an Italian food blogger and culinary tour guide, shares a recipe with The Local.

Asparagus and prawn risotto is an Easter favourite in Italy that can be rustled up in no time at all.

The recipe serves four people. 

Ingredients

300g of asparagus

One small onion

300g of peeled prawns

Half a glass of white wine

350g of Arborio rice (the classic risotto rice from Piedmont)

1/2 litre of broth

Butter

Olive oil

Method

1. Chop the onion finely and fry in some olive oil until soft.

2. In the meantime, remove the hard part of the stalk from the asparagus and cut the asparagus into small bits.

3. Add the rice to the frying onion, toast for a minute (until the rice becomes translucent), then add half a glass of wine.

4. Let the wine evaporate then add the asparagus and one ladle of broth.

5. Let the broth evaporate and keep adding the broth, one ladle at a time, while waiting for each ladle to evaporate.

6. After 10 minutes, add the prawns.

7. Cook until the rice is tender.

8. Turn the heat off, add a knob of butter. stir and rest for 2 minutes.

9. Serve hot with parmesan cheese.

Buon appetito!

Monica Cesarato is a food blogger, culinary tour guide and teaches cookery courses in Venice. She is currently co-writing a book with about Cicchetti (Venice version of tapas). To find out more about her food tours and cookery classes go to her Cook in Venice website.

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FEATURE

Italian recipe of the week: The perfect spaghetti carbonara

It has just three ingredients, but a lot of bite: artisan pasta maker Silvana Lanzetta shares her recipe for the perfect carbonara sauce.

Italian recipe of the week: The perfect spaghetti carbonara
An authentic carbonara sauce has only three ingredients. Photo: Flickr/Wine Dharma

Pasta alla carbonara (literally translated as 'coal workers’ pasta') is one of the most well-known and loved Italian delicacies: the creaminess of the eggs contrasting with the crispy guanciale makes it a pleasure to eat.

The origins of carbonara sauce are still uncertain. However, the recipe doesn’t appear until 1944, which prompts some speculations on how this delicious recipe came to be.

READ ALSO: The original recipe for authentic bolognese sauce

The most widely recognized theory is that this beloved Italian dish is an American adaptation of the traditional cacio e ova: when the Allied troops were stationed in Italy toward the end of World War Two, they got fond of pasta cacio e pepe, but to give them a “back home” flavour, they added smoked bacon to the recipe.

Roman people enthusiastically adopted the new dish, and quickly added it to their cooking.

They swapped the bacon for guanciale (the fat from a pig’s cheek) as they already had pasta recipes using guanciale and Pecorino cheese, the other two being pasta alla gricia and bucatini all’amatriciana.

Tips

Don't use Parmesan cheese for this recipe. However, if you're having difficulties finding guanciale, pancetta can be used instead.

Never add cream to the recipe: the creaminess is given by the sheer amount of grated Pecorino – so don't skimp on it! 

READ ALSO: Silvana's ten golden rules for cooking pasta like the Italians

Ingredients

  • 360 g spaghetti
  • 120 g guanciale
  • 4 eggs yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 150 g Pecorino Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Step 1:
In a non-stick pan, fry the guanciale in its own fat until slightly crispy, taking care not to brown it too much.

Step 2:
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and the whole egg with salt and pepper. Stir in the grated cheese until a thick cream is obtained. Add the cooked guanciale and reserve.

Step 3:
Cook the spaghetti al dente. Reserve about 100 ml of the cooking water. Drain the pasta well, and immediately pour the pasta into the bowl with the eggs. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg.

Step 4:
Add a little bit of the reserved cooking water, and mix well so as to coat all the pasta. If the sauce is still too dense, add some more cooking water. If too runny, stir in more cheese.

Step 5:
If necessary, season with more salt and pepper. Serve immediately sprinkled with extra grated Pecorino cheese.


Silvana Lanzetta. Photo: Private

Silvana Lanzetta was born into a family of pasta makers from Naples and spent 17 years as a part-time apprentice in her grandmother’s pasta factory. She specializes in making pasta entirely by hand and runs regular classes and workshops in London.

Find out more at her website, Pastartist.com, including this recipe and others.

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