Spaghetti alla chitarra is one of my favorite pasta shapes as it can hug the sauce and keep it all tight together. My newest discovery is this beautiful juniper smoked ricotta from Italy, a small production with big flavor. I use Mutti Finely Chopped Tomatoes, or Polpa, because it retains all the freshness of freshly picked fruit when it's canned in Italy and is easy to get at the store. Then I top with some fresh arugula from the rooftop farm close to my restaurant! This recipe calls for Colatura di Alici, which is an Italian fermented anchovy sauce (much like Southeast Asian fish sauce) that is available online and in specialty stores. —Silvia Barban
extra virgin olive oil
Mutti® Finely Chopped Tomatoes (Polpa)
extra virgin olive oil
small red onion, cut into thick (1 inch) slices
Colatura di Alici
salt (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
good extra virgin olive oil (from Calabria, preferably) to finish
Mix together both flours and put them on a clean table or countertop, creating a little volcano. Make a big hole in the center and crack the eggs inside the hole. Beat the eggs with a fork, and stream in the olive oil. When the eggs and the olive oil are emulsified, start to incorporate the flour with the tips of a fork, little by little. When you can’t mix the dough anymore with the fork, start to use your hands to knead the dough. Fold it until it’s smooth and uniform. Make sure the dough doesn’t get sticky in your hand. If this happens, the dough either needs more flour. If you find it’s too dry and breaks, add a little water. Form into a ball and let rest for 20 minutes.
Let it rest on the table. Cover with a wet towel or with plastic wrap and let sit for roughly 40 minutes.
In the meantime, start the sauce by adding the red onion in a pan with the extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and a few leaves of basil. Let it cook slowly without browning, until translucent. Add the Mutti tomatoes and let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring continuously. Add chili oil and Colatura di Alici, and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Keep in mind that the Colatura di Alici is salty already, and very umami, so taste before you salt. When the sauce is ready, remove the onion and the garlic. You can chop them and use them for another recipe.
When the pasta is rested, get the dough and roll it out with a rolling pin, about a half-inch thick and wide as the chitarra cutter then put semolina on both sides and roll it out until the dough goes through the cutter. If you don't have a chittara tool, simply roll up the sheets of pasta cigar-style, then use a sharp knife or cleaver to cut them into noodles. Now that you have the spaghetti ready, add some extra semolina to keep them separate and to prevent them from getting stuck together. Bring water to a boil, add salt a generous amount of salt, followed by the spaghetti. Let it cook for about one minute, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.
Let the pasta cook for about a minute with the sauce, as you stir it with a tong and let it emulsify. Add more Colatura to taste. Finish the dish by topping with grated smoked juniper ricotta, arugula and extra virgin olive oil.