In the summer of 2007 I worked at my aunt’s restaurant, La Locandina, located in Southern Italy. Having been exposed to Mexican cuisine for many years in California, I decided to bring ingredients to make foods from south of the border. When I prepared and served Mexican food, the Italians went wild over new flavors such as cilantro, avocados and chiles, especially in this pasta dish that I created. Make my Mexican pasta and post comments to let me know how your guests liked it!
Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6
3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, rinsed and chopped (measure first, then chop)
1-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound any variety short pasta
2/3 cup frozen peas
2/3 cup whole kernel corn, frozen
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks)
1 large ripe avocado (peeled and cut into cubes or slices at serving time – this prevents blackening)
2 fresh Serrano chiles, finely chopped and set in a small serving bowl
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, set in a small serving bowl
1. In a 4-quart pot, bring 10 cups of cold water to a boil.
2. In the meantime, combine the tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, 3/4 teaspoon salt and olive oil in a large porcelain or glass serving bowl. Toss lightly and set aside.
3. Add pasta and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the boiling water and cook on medium heat, uncovered and stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes or until pasta is al dente (crunchy tender).
4. After 8 minutes, add the peas, corn and carrot to the pasta during the last minute of the boil (if softer pasta is preferred, cook another minute or two).
5. Drain the pasta, peas, corn and carrot in a colander.
6. Transfer the pasta and cooked vegetables to the bowl containing the tomato mixture. Toss lightly and taste.
7. Serve in individual bowls and garnish pasta with the avocado. Ask guests to add chiles and cheese, if desired.
Accompany this exciting pasta dish with your choice of red or white wine.
To avoid overcooking pasta, begin tasting it after a 6-minute boil. Most pasta varieties require an 8 to 10 minute-boil.
When cooking pasta containing durum wheat semolina, there is no need to add oil to the water.
Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real