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Forget what you already know about dried, colourless and bland tasting pasta. The hand-made pasta from the region of Basilicata will transform you, and teach you how pasta should really be, turning you into a pasta ambassador.

Within the beautiful region of Basilicata, pasta dominates the cuisine due to its cheap cost and flexibility; however its flavours and presentation are far from simplistic. Nothing can compare, seriously, nothing, not even that go-to Dolmio pasta we are all use to.

Basilicata’s famous pasta began with the simple Lucanian recipe of hard grain flour, salt and water- the traditional way to make pasta. This was first ever referenced in Basilicata by a Latin poet who talked of eating the Lucanian Soup in 65BC! And despite some changes being made in the world of pasta, this still remains the basis for all of Basilicata recipes.

Back to the 21st century, it is not just the way pasta is made in Basilicata that makes it so great but also the fresh local ingredients that make it stand out from the rest.

Making pasta starts from the wheat; durum wheat is extremely popular and is harvested locally near the city of Matera and grown primarily for pasta dishes due to the extensive varieties that Basilicata produces. Alternatively, some pasta’s use lentil flour or other bean flours instead.

Olive oil is also an essential ingredient in making many Mediterranean pasta dishes.  The temperatures and seasons allow the olives to swell to their fullest to achieve maximum flavour. The olives are grown along the famous Ionian coastline to the Metaponto plains to the Lido of Policoro which gives it the fragrant taste of Southern Italy.

Basilicata’s warm climate and location makes it the perfect region to grow such fresh produce and ingredients that makes Basilicata pasta so delicious. One ingredient that Basilicata is famous for is the Senise peppers, which originates from the town of Senise and are grown in villages throughout the region. These peppers are renowned for their crunchy exterior and fiery red appearance. They are typically dried out in the sun either fried lightly in olive oil or crushed and used to flavour many dishes including pastas and the regional spicy sausage- Lucanica.

Still thinking pasta is boring? Well, why not try it yourself! In Matera, CasaNeutral have come up with a 3 day city break called ‘Spaghetti Language’. This is an ideal opportunity to immerse yourself in the beautiful Italian culture, to learn the sensual language and allow you to experience first-hand the luxurious pasta dishes that have fed the people of Basilicata for centuries.

So what’s stopping you..? Become a pasta ambassador today!

By Jadeene Parsons

Recipe for Pasta with Fried Peppers and Breadcrumbs

1⁄4 lb. country bread, cut into 1″ cubes
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
8 dried mild chillies, such as Senise, stemmed and seeded
4 anchovies, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pints cherry tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. pasta, such as fusilli or strascinati

1. Heat oven to 325˚. Bake bread cubes until hard, about 15 minutes. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil over medium heat. Add crumbs; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8–10 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a bowl. Heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add chillies. Let cool and tear.

2. Set skillet over medium heat and add anchovies; cook for 1 minute. Add garlic and tomatoes; cover; cook, until tomatoes soften and burst. Mash tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook Drain, reserving 1⁄4 cup water. Transfer pasta and water to reserved skillet of tomatoes over high heat. Toss to combine; cook until sauce thickens, 1–2 minutes. Transfer pasta to a platter; sprinkle with bread crumbs and chillies; drizzle with a little oil.




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