All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
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Stracnar & stracenate are both the same name for a pasta that originated in the Puglia area of Italy. Stracenate is essentially an egg pasta that is rolled thin & then rolled over a cavarola board & embossed with a pattern. The cavarola board looks like this (Photo courtesy of AdriBarrCrocetti.com)
These are very hard to find & the few I could find cost over $60. I didn’t want to commit that kind of money to what could end up being a one-use item – so I tracked this tiny plastic version down & bought it for $14 HERE.
Actually, I didn’t expect it to be tiny – but it is. It is like 2″x3″. I would much prefer a larger one that could imprint as much pasta as possible in one go. As it was – I had to cut my homemade paste into tiny squares & then run each one, individually, over this little guy.
It wasn’t difficult to roll these guys out. The little plastic cavarola came with a little grippy thing to put under it & a tiny rolling pin. I quickly moved on to my real rolling pin but, though this is a sorta slow process, it was satisfying & kinda Zen to do. I didn’t bother attempting any uniformity of shape. The rustic, variations bothered me less than trying over & over to roll out uniform strips of rectangular pasta. After about an hour total – I had stracenate for four drying on my counter.
The fact is, you can make this pasta & just blow off the embossing part. Once cooked, the imprint is somewhat less noticeable, anyway, and it is purely an aesthetic.
It is really just an old-school throwback to a regional, Italian, artisanal pasta and I love that kinda thing – so I did it. Plus – I have far too much time on my hands & making pasta of all kinds has a really calming effect on me. And homemade pasta is as delicious as it is gratifying.
For this dish, I used the other half head of cauliflower I had after my Kraft Cauliflower No-Mac & Cheese endeavor. I used tomatoes for color & clams for texture. You could leave any one of those out & compensate with more of another & still get a great ragu. I didn’t use live clams because of a clam Holocaust I caused a while back recounted here in my Arugula Bucatini & Spicy Clam Sauce post. Also – this video bums me out. How can you throw these guys into steaming pots? Oof!
As to homemade pasta – my “tutorial” for that is HERE. You could simply roll that dough out thin & cut it into rectangles with a knife & declare yourself a stracanate maker. Who’s gonna call you on that shit? Nobody. Nobody who wants to eat your homemade stracanate, that is. If another kind of pasta seems preferable – look HERE for a pretty decent selection of pasta doughs I have posted over the last year – doughs made from spinach or kale or arugula or beets or serrano/cilantro – etc etc. Or – just use any shape boxed pasta.
A quick aside about quantity of spices: I like my food heavily spiced & very garlicky. But – you can use things like crushed red pepper & garlic to suit your own taste – added to or subtracting from my suggestions. That said – my boyfriend Miles (looking super badass in Texas last March)
and I ordered a pizza delivered from the awesome Village Pizzeria. They sent a little plastic container or crushed red pepper with the pizza. It is THE HOTTEST fucking crushed red pepper on Earth. I use 1/2 tsp of this stuff where I would use 3 TBS of the stuff in my cabinet. I am guessing that they must just go through theirs very quickly so it is always fresh & powerful where my Costco-sized container sits on my shelf for over a year and become less potent. At any rate – I bring this up because I typically suggest FAR larger amounts of crushed red pepper than I do in this recipe & that is because I was using the Village Pizzeria stuff. The amount you really use is up to you & the spiciness of whatever crushed red pepper you are using. I had no idea the spice factor could vary as much as the two different containers I have here – and I have no way of knowing how spicy YOUR crushed red pepper is – so – just spice this up to your taste.
Stracnar (Stracenate) Pasta with a Pan-Fried Cauliflower, Tomato & Clam Ragu
(This feeds two very well)
2 servings homemade stracenate (stracnar) or 1/2 lb dry pasta (perhaps a pappardelle?)
1/2 head cauliflower – cut into bite-sized florets
12 cherry tomatoes – halved or quartered (plus more for garnish)
2 (6.5 oz) cans clams
6 (or less) cloves of garlic – chopped coarsely
1 small onion – diced
Lots of chopped parsley plus garnish
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper
S&P to taste
Make your pasta or get a box out of the pantry.
Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large pan. Pan-fry the cauliflower florets by letting them sit about a minute at a time on the hot pan – unmolested – before stirring them so that you get some browning as they cook. Once browned & tender – put them in a bowl & set aside.
If needed, add another TBS olive oil to the pan & saute the onion, tomato & crushed red pepper until the onion is soft & browning a bit. In the photos below, you can see I left my garlic in pretty sizable chunks. I find it is harder to burn that way – but it also results in you biting into huge garlic bits. I have no issue with that. If you do – cut your garlic smaller.
Add your garlic & saute a minute or two & then add the clams (with the juice from the cans) and the cauliflower. Add a handful of chopped, fresh parsley & add S&P to taste. Heat through and allow to rest over lowest heat.
Cook your pasta. Homemade pasta is done when it floats to the top of boiling water. Boxed pasta has instructions.
Drain the pasta, arrange some on plates & top with the ragu. Garnish with additional raw, chopped tomato and/or parsley. Enjoy your Italian stay-cation!