Pasta is typically served as a first course, or primo, in Italy, before being followed by a meat or fish based main course – the secondo. As this collection demonstrates, Italian pasta recipes vary a great deal, with different pasta shapes and sauces found in each region.
Shellfish and pasta is a classic pairing and a favourite of our Italian chefs. Lorenzo Cogo’s vibrant Orecchiette with watercress purée and mussels is dairy-free and bursting with fresh flavours, while Rosanna Marziale’s indulgent Squid ink pasta with mussels, calamari crackling and mozzarella purée offers an alternative starter option. When it comes to Italian pasta, it doesn’t get much more classic than spaghetti alle vongole (pasta with clams) – Mauro Uliassi serves up his version of the traditional dish with charred cherry tomatoes, a smoked eel broth and plenty of fresh parsley.
Filled pasta such as ravioli and tortellini always make a lovely starter, and are practical for a dinner party as they can be made several hours in advance and, once assembled, take just minutes to cook. Aurora Mazzucchelli’s Tortelli with Parmesan, lavender, nutmeg and almond is delicious as a starter or a light lunch, while Andrea Sarri’s Cappelletti of rabbit and Raschera cheese cream is served with a rich mushroom foam for a hearty pasta starter.