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Cookbook review and recipe
Jul 23rd, 2004

One of my favorite cookbooks is The Encyclopedia of Sauces for Your Pasta by Charles A. Bellissino. I bought it for four dollars at a resale store in Sonoma years ago, and for a long time I thought it might be a self-published book, because really, it's that ugly. It's a large sized paperback with the title printed in red, green, and black (Italian flag colors I guess) and some bright blue thrown in on the binding for good measure. The introductory information is laid out in all caps, and the recipes themselves have a funky little Loved It/Hated It/Didn't Like It But Will Serve It To Company checkbox at the top. So layout wise it's a nightmare. But as a cookbook it rocks. The book is over 500 pages and has any kind of pasta sauce you can imagine (as long as it's Italian). Most of the recipes are quick and easy, and marked as such, and every one I've tried I have loved. Charles A. taught me how to peel and seed tomatoes for uncooked tomato sauces and showed me how much of a difference it makes. He taught me about the different types of pasta and which ones can be substituted for another. Charles A. is a good man who really likes his pasta.

I don't use the cookbook all that often because I don't cook pasta much these days, but when I do I reach for the ugliest book on my bookshelf and know it will treat me right.

So last night I made pasta with Onion Sauce #3. This is a great recipe to make this time of year because sweet onions are in season. If you can find some Walla Walla Sweets or some Vidalias you're in business. If not, don't bother making this recipe, I really do think it needs the sweet onions. Luckily for me, the produce market down the street has bins of wonderful Walla Walla Sweets right now for some insanely low price.

This sauce is best (according to Charles A.) over medium tube types of noodles (rigatoni, ziti, etc.) or string types, both hollow and solid (cappelini, spaghetti, etc.). I used ziti.

It's simple, but the taste is really phenomenal, salty and sweet and chewey. Give it a try some day. Charles A. would want you to.


Onion Sauce #3

3 sweet onions, peeled and vertically sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated parmesiano reggiano cheese
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste


This sauce is best over medium tube types of noodles (rigatoni, ziti, etc.) or string types, both hollow and solid (cappelini, spaghetti, etc.). I used ziti.

This is from memory, but I don't think I'm forgetting anything. Cook the onions until translucent over low heat in the olive oil, salting during cooking (which prevents them from browning, did ya know that?). Toss the cooked pasta with the butter (I used less than the 3 tbsp called for, just enough to make the noodles buttery), then toss again with the parmesan and black pepper, and finally toss a third time with the cooked onions. Serve immediately.

-Charles A. Bellissino, The Encyclopedia of Sauces for your Pasta
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© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com