Queen cucina: Anna Del Conte - Britain's indisputable authority on Italian cooking - shares a few of her top tips | Features | Lifestyle | The Independent
Del Conte writes that "one of the best possible ways to serve linguine" is with the "simplest of all dressings": garlic, olive oil and chilli flakes.
"It's important what you put in, but equally important what you leave out.
Somehow, the British use more sauce with pasta than it needs and you tend to add too much parmesan.
It should always be used with discretion."
I learnt why my rendition of the Venetian classic risi e bisi (rice and peas) never matches the one I had near the Rialto bridge ("should be made with very young peas"), why the gorgeous Tuscan bean soup ribollita tastes even better with keeping ("it should be prepared a day in advance to allow the flavours to develop before it is reheated, hence its name 'reboiled'") and why the strands of my cooked spaghetti lack life after draining. (It does not have the requisite goccia or a drop of moisture: "Experts never drain through a colander but lift it out of the water with tongs... spaghetti should be quite moist when the sauce is added".)
"...how to overcome the "invasively metallic" taste of tomato purée. Here's the advice in The Gastronomy of Italy: "[It] should be used sparingly and allowed to cook in the sauce for some time. A small amount of sugar helps the process."
"In salads, there's a lack of oil and too much vinegar. It should be four parts of olive oil to one or two of wine vinegar or lemon juice," said Del Conte. "In Italy, we say you need four people to dress a bowl of salad. A generous person to pour the oil, a wise person to sprinkle the salt, a miser to add the vinegar and a patient person to toss it – 33 times is said to be the minimum. Where pasta dishes call for butter, I don't think you use enough. One chef was amazed at the amount I used."
Oliver, was "the ideal taster and tester. He did not have a very discerning palate... If he described a dish as 'rather bland' I knew it would not be appreciated by the average English eater." According to Del Conte, the Italian condiment company Sacla increases the quantity of garlic in its pesto destined for Britain. Contrary to popular belief, she says, "the Italian use of garlic is very moderate".
“Peperonata, a southern stew of pepper, onion and tomato, "is now popular everywhere... Excellent with a plain frittata.
If any is left over, it makes a delicious sauce for spaghetti".