Pasta Aficionada: Mafalda Corta

Mafalda Corta Pasta with Pumpkin Recipe
Mafalda Corta Pasta with Pumpkin and Fried Sage Leaves.

Before I get to mafalda corta pasta, I just have to say that I adore pasta and I couldn’t imagine omitting this considerable carb from my daily diet.  If I don’t have pasta for a few days–say, when I travel out of the country–I experience symptoms that can be likened to withdrawal  and it’s not pretty.  In fact, one of the reasons I usually opt to book an Airbnb when I’m on the road is so that I can subside any pasta pangs by preparing a plate for myself at least once–sometimes even twice–in the apartment’s kitchen.

I have always tended to gravitate towards long pasta: spaghetti, linguine and angel hair in particular, all of which I still love but there a few short pastas that float my boat: cavatelli, orechetti and fusilli most notably. Not too long ago during what I later learned was a serendipitous oversight, I had accidentally grabbed a package of mafalda corta thinking it was fusilli, which had been placed right next to it.

Mafalda Corta is a shorter version of Mafaldina pasta, which are long sturdy ribbons with squiggly, wavy edges that evoke (to me) daintiness. The shorter rectangular versions, which are no less sturdy, contain the squiggles on all four edges. Though it seems a delicate sauce tends to win out for the popular presentation, it would also pair well with some thicker, heartier fare. Mafaldina is believed to have been named after Princess Mafalda of the House Savoy (sounds Game of Thrones-esque, no?) as it’s also known as reginette, which means little queens.

This autumn and winter, I have been on a big pumpkin kick and one particular evening, I wound up with more pumpkin than I knew what to do with left over from an entire one I had purchased for risotto purposes. I had already softened the pumpkin in the oven, so it was ready and waiting to be cooked!

The next night, into my pasta cabinet I went and I didn’t have to delve too far as there sat the package of mafalda corta all but screaming “open me.” The little ripples on the edge seemed to be there just for the sake of attaching to some pumpkin-rich globs.  The next thing I knew, dinner was in order.

I sautéed my pumpkin in some olive oil with a couple of sage leaves, two chopped garlic cloves, half an onion and a pinch of salt. When the mafalda corta pasta reached the perfectly al dente cooking point,  I tossed them with the pumpkin which started to take on a liquid form, added some freshly grated parmesan cheese and served, garnished with two fried sage leaves that yes, I had fried myself for a risotto garnishing the previous night (I had several left over). The pasta curled just a tad when it had cooked, creating a the perfect nook for the soft pumpkin dollops to settle inside. (Note: mafalda corta pasta cooks fast and I have learned to set my timer for six-and-a-half minutes and then monitor it closely.)

I was quite pleae with how delicious my mafalda corta with pumpkin turned out. That serving wasn’t the end of it, I have since bought more pumpkin, some of which I prepared solely for the pasta. I also came to enjoy the mafalda corta  with broccoli romanesco (again sautéed quite simply with garlic, onions, salt and a touch of peperoncino) then topped with some freshly grated pecorino….the latter of which I tend to go overboard on. Once mixed, the saltiness of the cheese and spiciness from the peperoncino coupled with the subtle sweetness of the romanesco and the sturdy texture of the mafalda was a match made in pasta heaven! One of my new favorite comfort foods for sure, pictured below.

Mafalda Corta Pasta Recipe with Broccoli Romanesco and Pecorino
Mafalda corta with Romanesco and Pecorino. Incredibly simple, incredibly gratifying.

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