Saturday, 7 May 2011

I CAN PLAY THE GUITAR! Home made spaghetti alla chitarra with beans and seafood

Today, I learnt how to play the "guitar" and it was fun! A chitarra is not just a musical instrument. In Italy... land of inventions, creativity, exceedingly beautiful people and art, an implement was invented, possibly a long time ago, using a wooden frame, strings and some screws. This kind of chitarra you do not play... you make pasta with it! Spaghetti alla chitarra.

My chitarra sat in a corner for such a long time, until, today, feeling really brave, I decided to use it for the first time ever! I am not a pasta maker, or a guitar player. Pasta making women went out with my mum's generation, but every now and then I will have a go.

I'm glad I did, today, as my spaghetti is really delicious and I used it to make a truly creative dish with a twist on the traditional "Pasta e Fagioli" recipe, by adding mussels or, a slightly different version, prawns.

The sauce I can describe as delightful, as its flavour seems to find taste buds you didn't know you had. Different textures and flavours make this an exceptionally good dish. I am in love!

This is how I made my pasta.

Spaghetti alla chitarra

My basic pasta recipe

Serves 4

400 gr plain or 00 flour
1 whole egg
warm water
extra flour for dusting

Place the flour on a clean board. Make a well in the centre, then gradually incorporate the egg, salt and a small amount of warm water at a time, whilst mixing the dough (you can do this with a machine, if you like.) 

This is my chitarra, with its strings and screws

Mixing the ingredients

Kneading by hand

Continue to "work the dough" making sure it's firm, but not stiff. Set aside for a few minutes.

If you don't have a chitarra or a pasta machine, you can roll out the dough, a small amount at a time, with a rolling pin, then cut into shapes (strips, squares, long, wide strips. Or you could just buy fresh pasta!)

Making pasta strips with my machine

I used my pasta machine to roll out my dough into wide strips. Then, I used my "chitarra" for the first time and I can tell you IT WAS EXCITING! My pictures will show how I made my pasta.

I placed the strips on the chitarra and pressed down with a rolling pin to make spaghetti

My spaghetti is gathering at the base of the chitarra

Ready for the pot!

Success! It was delicious, firm, al dente. I cooked it in a pan of hot salted water for just 4 minutes, then drained and added to the sauce! BUONA! BUONISSIMA!

And here is the sauce.

WARNING! This is only for the over 18s: it's very hot and sexy!

Fagioli with a twist
( Cannellini beans and seafood sauce)

Serves 4


5-6 big glugs olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100 gr pancetta
(or 5 slices bacon, chopped)
400 gr peeled prawns
(or 600 gr live mussels in their shell
washed and scrubbed)
10-12 cherry tomatoes quartered
400 gr tin cannellini beans
fresh parsley and basil
salt, black pepper
1/2 fresh chilli pepper
chilli flakes
(for the naughty ones!)

This is so easy! I made it in my wok, which I love. Put your olive oil in a pan and when hot, add the garlic. When golden, add your pancetta, stir and cook for two minutes.

Next, add the chopped cherry tomatoes, which you will cook for two or three minutes, when you will be ready to add your chosen variety of seafood. This will need to cook for a few minutes, to allow the flavours to blend. By now, you your kitchen will be filled with an incredibly exotic aroma. Lovely! 

Steaming hot and smelling gorgeous!

Drain the canned beans and add, with your chilli pepper, some salt and a large sprinkling of chopped parsley and basil. Black pepper goes really well with this, but dried chilli flakes isn't bad... either (as Bridget Jones would put it!) Your wonderful sauce is pronta! Ready!

Add your cooked pasta to the sauce, mix and serve. I am very, very naughty, so I always like to sprinkle extra chilli flakes on my pasta! Buon appetito!

With prawns

Or mussels! Here, I made the dish using pappardelle, very wide tagliatelle.
It was truly delicious with mussels, too. So said my husband, but the he would, as he loves anything I cook, especially my Southern Italian food!

And the winner is....


  1. Wow great Anna. I always wanted to know how to make my own pasta.

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