Guided by his pursuit of "quality, authenticity, and pleasure," film director and gastronome Francis Ford Coppola hopes to rescue Americans from pasty pasta while helping the Brooklyn-based Morisi factory maintain its culinary traditions. "More and more things that are ersatz and mass-produced are being flung at us in lieu of the real things, like authentic food made in an authentic tradition," Coppola says. Unlike commercial pasta, dried quickly and made with Teflon molds, Morisi pasta is shaped in antique bronze molds and dried on wooden racks, sometimes for as long as four days. The result: chewy pastas that cradle sauce and sate the palate. "It's very important to respect the cooking time," Coppola says of the rustic pastas, which require 12 to 20 minutes' preparation. "The whole art is to get it out at the right time: That's the moment of perfection." The pastas available under Coppola's Mammarella label ("dear little mama," a tribute to his mother, Italia) come in four shapes: farfallone (which Coppola prepares with porcini mushrooms), quadrefiore, rosette, and gemelli ($5 for 16 oz package). He hopes to introduce classic Roman bucatini noodles and amatriciana sauce, and is exploring making pasta from organic flour. Coppola sells the products at his Napa vineyard in the town of Rutherford (800-575-9927), in gourmet shops, and on-line at www.niebaum-coppola.com.
Quadrefiore alla Norma, by Francis Ford Coppola.
Named for Bellini's great opera, this dish is a Sicilian classic.
Canola oil or any vegetable oil for deep frying
1 lb. Mammarella Quadrefiore pasta
2 medium eggplants cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons fresh ricotta
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata
1 jar Mammarella Pomodoro Basilico sauce
sprigs of fresh basil leaves
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the eggplant cubes in small batches until they acquire a nice golden color. Drain on paper towels.
Heat the Mammarella Pomodoro Basilico sauce until simmering, reduce the heat, add the fresh ricotta. Stir until creamy.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot and stir in 1H tablespoons of salt. Add the Mammarella Quadrefiore pasta, and cook for 16 minutes or until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta well and mix with the hot sauce and eggplant (save a quarter of the sauce to top the pasta at the end). Transfer the pasta to a warm serving bowl or individual bowls, spoon the remaining sauce over the top, and garnish with the ricotta salata and the basil sprigs.