The Jerusalem Post
Passion for pasta By FAYE LEVY
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In classic Italian menus, pasta has a place of honor as a separate course. At the family dinners of Lisa Caponigri, author of Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?, meals were served in the Italian tradition: “an antipasto (usually a crostini, [toast with a savory topping] to pass at the table), a primo (first course: this is almost always a pasta…), a secondo (call it the main course) served with a single contorno (side dish), and finally, dessert.”
One reason to serve pasta before the main course has been frugality. When Caponigri cooked with her grandmother, she heard stories of the Sicilian family’s hard life. Their economical dishes like spaghetti with anchovies and bread crumbs were “delicious, satisfying and easy to prepare.”
In Caponigri’s book of menus for a year of Sunday dinners, hearty pasta dishes like lasagne baked with meat ragu are followed by a main course of chicken or meat.
Lighter pasta dishes with vegetable- or fish-based sauces are often served before a fish entree. The Sicilian spaghetti with anchovy sauce is preceded by red pepper aioli on toast. Following the spaghetti, Caponigri serves sole roll-ups made of sole fillets baked with garlic and parsley and moistened with brown butter heated with green onions, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Next come artichokes with a garlic parsley filling, and a rumflavored orange cake for dessert.
For a light summer menu, Caponigri prepares pasta Ligurian style, with pesto, green beans and potatoes. It is followed by chicken milanese, which resembles schnitzel, and a zucchini side dish. Her pasta with mushroom sauce is followed by roasted meat with fennel, and for dessert, cherries in Chianti.