Once upon a time… Woodpecker’s Rigatoncini with Parmesan fried onions

We can prepare a recipe with our children, and in the meanwhile we can tell them a beautiful story, where the characters are the ingredients of the recipe and everything become a fairytale. Even cooking time can be transformed in a moment of creativity for the whole family, to increase imagination and to go beyond things. This is the idea of Once Upon a Time, where the recipes are in form of fairytales. Like the following, inspired by the beautiful colors of the plate… 

ONCE UPON A TIME there was a tree, a tall tree that everybody had left alone. He was so bare and bleak and it spent its whole days sleeping.

One day, a little bird arrived: he had green wings and red head, and he started knocking on the  dead wood with his long beak.

At last, one morning the tree decided to wake thus starting to flower and germinate. To thank the generous bird, the tree offered him his beautiful buds to feed him. They were really tasty, red and white as the little bird. Then, the tree wanted to give a name to his new friend: he would have called him “woodpecker” remembering how he had so well succeed in wake him from his sadness. From that moment on, they became good friends.

Two-tone “Rigatoncini” with tomato sauce, spinach and Parmesan fried onions

Serves 4

250 g Rigatoncini (a short pasta, you can also find it made with vegetables); 50 g tomato concentrate; 1 white onion; 200 g fresh bags spinach; 1 cup vinegar; 1 spoon breadcrumb; 50 g Parmesan cheese; extra virgin olive oil; salt and pepper; oregano

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the spinach, salt and pepper and sweat for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
  • Heat a pan with a 1/2 cup water, oregano and salt. Simmer for 2 mins.
  • Use a hand blender to blitz spinach to a smooth cream (add water if it is not creamy enough).
  • Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook pasta according to the packet instructions (al dente: 4-6 mins).
  • Drain the pasta, divide it in the two pans. Toss everything well to combine, a half with tomato sauce, a half with spinach.
  • For the onions: separate the onion slices into rings, and set aside in a bowl covered with vinegar for 5 mins. In a small bowl, stir together the shaved parmesan and breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a casserole pan. Dip the onion rings into breadcrumbs and parmesan mixture so to coat them. Fry the rings a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Season with salt.
  • Serve the two-tone Rigatoncini with the parmesan onions. Top with oregano and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.


For this recipe I used RUSTICHELLA D’ABRUZZO pasta



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