I think it’s amazing on how many different types of pasta noodles there are. Spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli, rigatoni, fettuccine, the list is pretty endless and those are just the well-known ones. And what about the pasta noodles whose names you might not always remember but would certainly be able to describe their shape such as farfale (bow tie) and fusilli (twisted spaghetti)? But what do you do when a recipe calls for pasta noodles that you’ve never even heard of or seen on the menu at an Italian restaurant? Well, this would be the case for me with “mafalde,” which is a type of ribbon pasta noodle that is characterized by their long, fairly wide rectangular shape and curly edges. (If you’re still interested in all the pasta types there are, check out the pasta shapes dictionary by clicking here. You will be amazed. No joke!)
I’ve mentioned before that sometimes I am burnt out (taste-wise) from red sauce. It’s “overplayed” to say the least. So, that’s why the recipe for Mafalde Florentine Style from my cookbook Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking intrigued me. It featured golden raisins (boy, are they expensive especially when your supermarket only sells a ridiculously large amount) and pine nuts (I swear pine nuts are the hip thing in cooking these days), while the sauce consisted of ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. As for the mafalde, if you’re like me and aren’t planning on whipping out your pasta maker or sadly, won’t be traveling to Italy any time soon, then as the recipe notes, fettuccine will work even if it’s decidedly less cool.
Mafalde Florentine Style
recipe via Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
One 5-ounce bag fresh spinach, chopped
1 pound mafalde or fettuccine
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups drained fresh ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. Soak the raisins in hot water to cover for 10 minutes, then drain.
-In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, and cook, stirring, until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach, and season with the salt. Once the spinach is in the skillet, start cooking the pasta.
-Let the spinach cook until wilted, about 3 or 4 minutes, then ladle in 1 cup pasta water and add the raisins and nutmeg. Simmer until the pasta is ready. Once the pasta is almost done, stir the ricotta into the sauce over low heat. Remove the pasta with tongs, and add directly to the sauce, adding a little more pasta water if the pasta seems dry. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the grated cheese, and serve.