‘Cold Water Is the Key’ and More Pasta Pro Tips from an Italian Kitchen

COOKBOOK Author Food blog writer, as well as columnist Rachel Roddy, had just returned from a visit to a factory for pecorino when we sat down in the kitchen of her home in Rome. She admitted to eating plenty of cheese and returning home to eat more. She incorporated it into the spaghetti cacio and pepe, which she cooked by following the recipe she outlines in her newest cookbook, “An A to Z of Pasta: Recipes for Shapes and Sauces, from Alfabeto to Ziti, and Everything in Between” (Mar. 28, Alfred A. Knopf). “Cold liquid is the main ingredient of this dish. It helps keep the temperature low since excessive heat can give the dish clumps,” she writes. “Also mixing away from the heat, in a wide bowl.” The result is the result of a “creamy and wavy” cacio and pepe “that curls around the fork and makes my heart skip.”

In the past 18 years, this British expat has resided in Testaccio, the wedge-shaped or, as she calls it, “cheese-shaped” quarter in the southwest of the city. She lives with her boyfriend, Vincenzo Caristia, a Sicilian drummer, and their 11-year-old son Luca. “I think I relearned to cook in Italy,” she told us. Here, she explains some of the lessons she learned–with a particular focus on her current obsession with pasta, as well as the recipe you’ll be able to put on repeat.

The first thing people will notice about my home is the gas-fired stove I purchased from a secondhand store. I was thrilled because it’s precisely the same gas-fire model as Sophia Loren in her book “In the Kitchen With Love.” Vincenzo took care of all the research.

My kitchen is always filled with pasta, butter, flour, and oil. Always milk and cheese. I always have Ketchup. Rice and tomato sauce as well as bread. If I had to choose just three pasta types to keep on hand, I would have spaghetti, a long tube similar to mezze maniche or rigatoni, and a tiny ditalini. Some might prefer a patina, the tiny one you find to cook in the soup. I prefer Ditalini. They are tiny tubes.

From left: essential pantry items, kept in reach and right above the kitchen sink; a few from Ms. Roddy’s cutlery.

On nights when I’m not working, I cook pasta and something else. Once or twice a week, I’ll cook it from scratch. I love the shapes that are stuffed, such as ravioli and tortellini. I feel a lot of pleasure from these. Or lasagna. Lasagna still kills me.

One food item I would be content with every day is eggs. I’m furious when we don’t have eggs. It’s my favorite fast food. A three-egg breakfast that includes cheese can be heaven since it contains nutrients. Finding two eggs in an omelet too small is always a challenge.

The most inspirational cookbook is always the book I’m currently reading. I’m presently reading Katherine Mansfield’s short stories now, and I’m also enjoying lots of food. I read books that have food included repeatedly. The cookbooks I go back to time and time are Jane Grigson’s. Her vegetable and fruit books. They’re scholarly. Ten years ago, I would have thought of Elizabeth David first. Jane Grigson felt too much like my grandma. I loved that Elizabeth David flicked [cigarette] the ash from her rice. I’m still in love with Elizabeth David. But I’ve gotten used to the warmth and wit of [Grigson’s] profoundly scholarly, beautiful writing.

Sophia Loren’s “In the Kitchen With Love’ is a classic book.

If I could find one thing in my kitchen, I’d pick Sophia Loren’s book. I’d also grab my giant pasta pan, as it would allow me to put other things inside it. I’d cheat. That’s why I’d get my pasta pan and add a few books and a mug made by one of my friends.

The thing I’m the most excited about at the moment is artichokes. This time of season in Rome, artichokes are just beginning to pop up everywhere. As well as lots of asparagus and plenty of wild asparagus and all those beautiful spring greens. It’s pleasant to cross that bridge, does it not, when you have the end of winter greens? The gardens are starting to bloom slightly. We’re seeing the spring pestos, bringing in raw herbs and possibly adding lemon zest. If you own an uncooked potato and the green beans are beginning to appear, You could make pasta using that.

The most valuable piece of kitchen advice I’ve ever heard was making soup from beans to cook your pasta with it. You can call it the pasta and chickpeas rule. I can remember visiting a place and having pasta e chow, which was very liquid, and a lot of fresh rosemary and a broken Tagliatelle. I was thinking, “That’s a good thing. It was around that time that I started writing about food. Then, I learned about pasta, Figlioli (beans), and pasta, known as lenticchie (lentils). Every week, at least, I prepare a form of pasta, e, croci or beans and pasta. They’re the dishes that helped me learn to cook again.

Left: Durum flour weighed for pasta preparation and fresh rosemary to cook the pasta soup. Maltagliati pasta, which is a reference to ‘badly cut.’

Another pasta concept I was taught was that it comes from northwestern Italy. They make pizzoccheri, which is a pasta made from Buckwheat flour. They cook the pizzoccheri using potatoes and cabbage. The majority of the ingredients are put in the skillet together. Their order is based on whether you’ve got fresh or dry pizzoccheri or their age. The potato begins to collapse and forms a starch, making the cabbage soft and beautiful. After you drain it all into a bowl, mix it with a tremendous amount of butter and cheese. There are a variety of ways to bake your food in an oven. The basic idea of simply throwing pasta, potatoes, and a leaf of lettuce in the pan, draining it, and mixing it with lots of cheese and butter is essential.

Pasta e Ceci (Pasta and Chickpea Soup)

In this rich, chocolate-colored version of pasta e cioccolato, half of the soup is blended until smooth so it can be sprayed on the pasta’s folds. Increase the amount, and you’ll have a simple and delicious dish for a large group. It’s also flexible since you can prepare it throughout the day and then reheat and add the pasta according to what is best for the group and you. For serving, zigzag the pasta with your favorite olive oil.


  • 2 (15-ounce) chickpeas from a can
  • Six tablespoons extra-virgin olive oils, plus more for serving
  • One onion Finely chopped
  • One stalk of celery finely diced
  • One small potato peeled and diced (optional)
  • One sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • Small pinch of red pepper flake (optional)
  • 5 1/2 cups of water
  • Black pepper freshly crushed and Kosher Salt.
  • Parmesan Meatrind (optional)
  • 7 ounces of fresh lagane pasta or dried tagliatelle broken into pieces


  1. Clean and drain chickpeas and rinse them. Heat olive oil in a large pan with a heavy bottom at medium-low temperature, add celery and onions, and cook slowly until tender and fragrant, around 5 minutes.
  2. If using potatoes, the option is tomatoes, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Mix to cook for about a minute before adding the chickpeas. Add salt, water, and Parmesan rind in the event of use. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the mixture to an unbeatable boil, then lower it to a simmer and cook for up to 25 minutes.
  3. Mix half of the soup out of the pan or put it into a food processor. Re-add soup that has been agreed to the pan.
  4. Take off the Parmesan rind, and discard. Check salt levels and adjust as required. Place the pan on medium-high heat and bring the soup to a steady but moderately boiling. Cook pasta, stirring until the pasta is cooked through with a splash of water as needed. Test the seasoning and add black pepper. Serve with a bit of olive oil drizzled over the top.


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