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TIP OF THE DAY: Host A Spaghettata, An Informal Spaghetti Party

If you’re Italian American, you may know what a spaghettata is (pronounced spa-get-TAH-tah). It’s like a cookout, but it takes place indoors, with spaghetti. In other words, it’s a spaghetti party (or simply a pasta party, if you serve a different type of pasta).

It can be an impromptu lunch or dinner, following a card game or board game, or after a soccer match (or your favorite American sport). The key word is casual.

In Italy, somebody says, “Facciamo una spaghettata”—let’s have a spaghetatta—and the meal is on.

Everyone migrates to the kitchen. A big pot of water is put on the stove for the spaghetti (or any other pasta cut). The rest of the ingredients include what’s in every Italian pantry.

Everybody helps out, and soon the spaghetti feast is on the table.

You can toss in “anything in the kitchen,” such as fresh, frozen, or jarred veggies (artichoke hearts, peas, roasted red peppers), tuna, or anchovies.

If you have chicken, seafood, sausage, or bacon to toss in, do it. If you don’t have Parmesan or other grating cheese, add blue cheese, goat cheese, or feta.

> The different types of pasta.

> The history of pasta.

  • Spaghetti or pasta shape of choice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Peeled canned tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are used in Italy) or sauce of choice
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Fresh gound pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Toppings

    There are many more (e.g. fried eggplant), but these are the easiest. Plus, you can make it a “potluck” by asking each guest to bring a topping (but you may want to assign categories so you don’t end up with six jars of olives).

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Capers
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Herbs: fresh basil and parsley, dried oregano and garlic chips
  • Meat: meatballs, pancetta, prosciutto, salame, sausage
  • Mozzarella perlini or cubes
  • Olives
  • Sautéed garlic
  • Seafood: clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp
  • Steamed vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, squash
    We’ve kept it “Italian” here. But if you have the right crowd, you might want to go “nouvelle”: bacon, blistered shishito chiles, chicken, chicken livers, corn, goat cheese, jalapeño, raw red onion, sugar snap peas, etc.

    Here are tips from Barilla for giving your spaghettata a special Italian flare:

  • Play Italian music—from opera to pop (who doesn’t like Andrea Bocelli)
  • Serve an antipasto—like bruschetta or sliced salumi—that can be enjoyed while cooking (our favorite salumi, a great gift)
  • Garnish the plates with a sprig of basil (if you have lots of basil, make pesto sauce)
  • Place a bowl of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the table (we let people grate their own with a Microplane coarse grater or similar device)
  • Also for the table: sea salt and a peppermill for freshly ground pepper

    Barilla has a large selection of pasta recipes on its website. We’ve picked these three easy recipes for your spaghettata:

  • Angel Hair Pasta with tomatoes and fresh basil (recipe).
  • Lemon Spaghetti, with the juice of two fresh lemons, chopped basil and Parmesan (recipe).
  • Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes and Olive Oil, perhaps the easiest and simplest classic Italian preparation (recipe).
    > The difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano Reggiano.
    > The different Italian grating cheeses.



    [1] Angel hair spaghetti with tomatoes and fresh basil: ready in minutes (photos #1 and #2 © Barilla).

    [2] Spaghetti is a popular shape, but tube pasta like penne or rotini may be less “drippy.”

    Canned Tomatoes

    [3] Canned tomatoes are a base for a sauce, or just use them as is (photo © Greatest Tomatoes From Europe).

    [4] Keep red chile flakes on hand to spice things up (photo © Silk Road Spices).

    [5] There’s nothing better than real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (photo © Parmigiano Reggiano | Facebook).

    [6] We like to keep a peppermill on the buffet table, along with a sea salt grinder (photo © Oxo).



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