Cooking For One: Calamarata Alla Boscaiolo

Normally a bit of weeknight pasta-for-one when Mrs Prick is interstate is not that interesting, but for a few reasons this Calamarata alla Boscaiolo, picked up from a recipe by Del Posto’s Mark Ladner in the current Lucky Peach, rates a mention. It’s just a simple dish of porcinis, tuna, tomato, and chili paste from Calabrese, but a very good, quick meal in a pinch. And, keeping with the issue’s “Apocalypse” theme, none of the ingredients go off; it’s the sort of thing a well-stocked pantry can always provide. Anyway, key points:

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Bachelor-night Batterie de Cuisine

  • Etymology is endless fascinating, as is what happens to recipes on the boat from the old country. Thus this is a boscaiola, but without the cream or bacon that makes the dish a staple of Anglo-Italian joints (just as proper carbonara does not swim in a sea of dairy). Boscaiola apparently refers to “woodsman’s pasta”, so the Prick suspects this version is closer to the original, authentic mark – though your traditional Italian “woodsman” probably would not have had jars of really lovely tuna from the Med in his larder, either.
  • Calabrian chili paste is a revelation, I should have added more, and will next time. The sweet, jarred Italian tuna called for (as opposed to the sharper tinned stuff harvest God knows how and where) also makes a big difference. Sadly the Sicilian tomato paste (“solid like clay” in Ladner’s description) was nowhere to be found, though I did fry the hell out of the regular stuff, as called for – it almost felt like starting a Thai curry, and added a great bit of depth.
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My cherry tomato amour …

  • Chef only calls for “just enough water to cook the pasta”, not the “gallons” of water most chefs call for. This is the only time the Prick went off-piste with this recipe:  After a discussion the other day with Canadian blogatrice Canard Enchante about the differences between home and commercial kitchens, it is clear that even with a good Smeg range there aren’t enough BTUs coming out of a suburban gas hookup to bring a smaller amount of liquid back to the boil in anything close to an acceptable time.
  • Tinned cherry tomatoes are actually preferable to the usual San Marzano plums for quick pastas; they hold their shape better and add a bit of definition.
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Dinner is served.

  • I should take food pictures with something better than this crappy Samsung phone.
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8 Responses to Cooking For One: Calamarata Alla Boscaiolo

  1. dash22 says:

    Can you elaborate further on the pasta cooking issue? If there is less water, wouldn’t it come back to the boil quicker? What am I missing?

    • chiefprick says:

      Hi Dash, if you’ve got four litres of boiling water and then add something cool to it, i.e., dried pasta, the temperature will drop less than if it was added to one litre of boiling water – therefore there’s less work/energy/time required to get the water back up to boil. Cheers

  2. mrbingley says:

    That looks quite wonderful, especially the jarred tuna.

  3. Pogria says:

    That looks a delicious meal. You can’t go wrong with pasta. My favourite single pasta dishes are Puttanesca and an artichoke sauce I came across on a blog some years back. Both are great because, like your Boscaiolo, they are made with pantry staples.

    Regarding boiling pasta, have you tried cooking pasta as you would risotto? It is a revelation.

    The jarred tuna is the best choice when making tonatto.

  4. DMS says:

    Looks good so I did some googling.

    “Boscaiolo” seems to have the standardisation of ingredients of Chicken Tikka Masala or Pizza (no I don’t mean margherita, so no trolls please). This version looks pretty good though – I’ll try to construct it anyway as it looks pretty straightforward.

  5. Jimp51 says:

    As far as feasts go, this one takes some beating http://dlvr.it/3K4VNk Seems some local Maori (NZ) MP died and they are having a Tangi. A Tangi consists of a Hangi, roast meat and vegetables in a earth pit, volcanic rock powered , and copious amounts of beer, preferably direct from a mini tanker (approx 50 gallons ) (@waikatotimes: Understanding a tangi: http://t.co/unetahBx9V). The latest update indicates another local MP had a successfully pig hunt last nite so add pork to the menu . He arrived on a horse (not known if that is added to the menu) http://twitter.com/waikatotimes/status/330509979813552128/photo/1

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