Saltimbocca alla Romana

A Roman favorite. Saltimbocca is short for salta in bocca—jumps-in-mouth—which this flavorful dish, Romans say, all but does.

Ingredients:

4 veal cutlets (½ pound)
4 slices of prosciutto, the fat removed
1-2 leaves of fresh, cleaned, dried sage
olive oil for sautéing in a pan
wooden toothpicks

Directions:

Flatten the cutlets by pressing them with a wide-blade knife. Place a slice of prosciutto and half a sage leaf on each cutlet. Pin these to the veal by threading a toothpick horizontally in and out of all three ingredients, sort of like sewing a patch onto a sleeve; you want the three to stay attached during sautéing. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, add the cutlets, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about one minute on each side, though the veal side may need a little extra sautéing.

Remove the cutlets to a warming dish. Add some butter and white wine to the drippings left in the pan and sauté at higher heat until the sauce starts reducing. Pour the sauce over the cutlets, and dig in.

Servings: Serves two

Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

This Roman classic is an easy dish that all Italians learn how to make.

Ingredients:

2 cloves of garlic, minced, (or more, to taste)
2 fresh hot peppers (or less, to taste)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
grated Parmigiano or pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

Directions:

Bring 6 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil; add the spaghetti. While it boils gently, warm the olive oil in a sauté pan, then add the minced garlic and whole peppers. Sauté them together until the garlic lightens. Turn off the heat (the garlic will continue to brown, but it shouldn't become too brown, or it will be bitter).

Drain the cooked spaghetti and transfer them to the sauté pan. Stir the spaghetti into the sauce, mixing well. Serve as is, or with some grated Parmigiano or pecorino Romano cheese.

Servings: Serves four

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe: Pasta with Pecorino and Black Pepper

This typical Roman first course is surprisingly simple, but its very simplicity requires great attention to detail and technique to render a superlative version. (Cacio is a term for cheese in southern Italy.)

Ingredients:

14 ounces (almost 1 pound) spaghetti or bucatini pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup (packed) freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring 6 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil; add the spaghetti or bucatini. While they boil, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, adding a generous dusting of black pepper. Grate the pecorino cheese into a bowl, then add a little hot water from the pasta pot and mix it with the cheese until it's creamy.

Drain the pasta and transfer it to the olive oil-coated sauté pan. Quickly mix the pasta in the olive oil, then add in the creamy cheese from the bowl. Mix the sauce well into the pasta until the pasta's starch binds with the other ingredients. Serve very hot, adding more cheese and pepper to taste.

Servings: Serves four

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