My favourite inauthentic pasta: My creamy Acini di Pepe with parsley.
It’s almost spring here in Groningen. The days are becoming longer (mainly because of clocks being set forward) and my hopes are growing higher. This time spring is just around the corner, I can feel it in my bones. Unfortunately the sun, the birds and the croci (I assume that this is the plural of crocus) is joined by a hord of exams. So time is as scarce as ever. But every now and then you’ve got to take a break and even if it is only for a bite. Because all work and no chow really makes one a dull boy. Whenever I lack time, pasta is my go-to staple. It’s cheap, it’s fast and it is nourishing. And when it tastes like my creamy acini di pepe with parsley, lemon and butter, who’s to say no?
08.04.2013 – I made a change to the recipe, the old recipe suggested a tea-spoon of butter. Which is not much, at all. This is a small mistake, I meant to say 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. Because there is nothing better than a good lump of butter.
I am a huge risotto fan, one of my favourites is a relatively light (after all we are talking starch, butter and white wine by the bucket) parsley risotto with lemon. However, I often don’t have the time to actually make it. Constant stirring and adding the stock ladle by ladle really can be one of the most soothing things, but it usually isn’t if you are under pressure. But there are alternatives, with a similar creaminess and a delicious bite. I stumbled upon the little acini di pepe (which is Italian for pepper corns) in my local Moroccan deli, they sell them as plombi pasta, but the internet says, that that’s not really a thing. Acini di pepe are about the size of the anti-baby pill and take a bit more cooking than most pastas, but dish if creamy acini di pepe makes up for this by requiring no extra time for making a sauce. The sauce consists of a bit of the cooking liquid, parmesan, butter and lemon juice. That’s really all it needs. The pastinas, which is how acini di pepe are sometimes called, appear to lose more starch than regular pasta, which makes them ideal for this dish. The starch will thicken the sauce, the parmesan and the butter will add a final touch of creaminess. This dish is so creamy that it is almost a bit too much, the lemon juice will nicely cut through all the richness and add a subtle lightness to it all. And then comes the parsley… don’t get me started on that one. It’s heaven on a plate, it is.
My creamy acini di pepe
Acini di pepe (or any other pearl-pasta) Parmesan Parsley Garlic Salt Pepper Butter Lemon
This recipe is give-or-take-thing, per person I use about one (tea)cup of pasta, about as much of parsley, half a cup of parmesan cheese and one to two tablespoons of butter. Like always, if you like more parsley, just use more, if you like less, use less. The same goes for the parmesan and any other ingredient.
Heat up a large pot of water. Once it comes to a boil salt it (Have you ever been swimming in the sea? I personally feel that pasta-water should be as salty as the Mediterranean sea). Cook the pasta to your liking (I like a bit of a bite to mine, but that’s just me). Save some (about a cup) of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and put it right back into the pot (heat off), add the butter and parmesan, add a bit of the cooking water and stir thoroughly. Add more liquid until there is a creamy sauce. Add a tiny bit of minced garlic to the pot. Chop the parsley and add it to the pot. Squeeze in a bit of the lemon juice (or more if you like) and grind in some black pepper. If you like, serve it with an extra coating of parmesan or a lump of butter or just have it as it is.