Ciao from Italy!
My first week here has been daunting, especially since I had to come slightly late. You hit the ground running, and the first thing I wanted to figure out was what I would eat! Of course, I’m in Italy, and eating out here is much cheaper than back home - but it’s still cheaper to cook at home.
So I did what any American would her first week studying abroad in Rome. I made pasta.
These are my tips on how to make a great (though somewhat inauthentic) pasta dish in Italy.
Buy some spices immediately. You will use them for more than just pasta dishes, but having 3-5 spices in your apartment to share with your roommates will just improve everything you eat.
Buy fresh, egg pasta instead of hard boxed ones. It expires faster, but it tastes better. Also soft pasta takes about 3-4 minutes to cook rather than 10 minutes for hard pasta, so make sure not to overdo it like I did my first try.
Save. The. Pasta. Water. Make sure when you heat up your sauce you add a splash of pasta water. It will help the sauce stick to your pasta much better.
Heat up some garlic and olive oil before you throw in your sauce. I bought jar sauce. Here in Italy, even the jar sauce is amazing. I also threw in some of those spices into the jar sauce, like oregano or basil.
Throw in some black olives or cherry tomatoes while you’re at it. Your preference! I also have an olive obsession, so I sometimes add a splash of the olive water left from the jar and it adds a special tang.
Put the cooked pasta back in and stir the sauce and pasta together.
Once everything is done, feel free to add garnishes of your choosing. Sprinkle some Parmesan and voila!
These are just suggestions. Feel free to mix and match to your taste. I recommend not doing all of these garnishes and add-ons at once, as it could be too much. If you had cherry tomatoes, skip the olives.
Hope you enjoy it!
Shira Vilvovsky is the Spring 2022 CEA MOJO Blogger in Rome, Italy, and is currently studying at Bentley University.