pasta and potatoes

When dr bob had this in the CNR applied mathematics institute cafeteria in Naples, he had to have the recipe. "Pasta e patate" is a traditional Napolitano recipe, and fortunately several traditional Napolitano moms were at the table assuring him that this was an easy one. Francesca later responded to the e-mail request for details but it took a while to give it a try. First came the search for mixed pasta (pasta mista), which bob found at a new Italian food store Luigi and Giovanni's which had recently opened up nearby. The find was a Delverde product curiously with no name other than "pasta made of semolina" on the package. But readily identifiable from the many irregularly shaped pieces of small dried pasta all mixed together. And designated by shape number 77 and name "mista" at their USA website. Two packages lingered in the closet for what seemed like years. The dr bob cooking team wins no prizes for speed.

Pasta and potatoes? A strange combination you might think at first, but we had already been initiated with pizzoccheri and potatoes years before, so it seemed perfectly natural when bob tasted his first hit of the stuff. Then having acquired an English language Naples cookbook (bought for a single really Napolitano recipe: Genovese pasta sauce, an onion to-the-max meat flavored sauce for supermacaroni: candele = candles), there was confirmation of the authenticity of its version of this recipe from its close resemblance to francesca's recipe.

pasta e patate (quella si' che merita!)
1) Tagliare a cubetti le patate (circa 100g. a persona) e lasciarle un po' in
acqua fredda.
2) far rosolare una cipolla tagliata sottile con poco olio (un cucchiaio a
persona) e prosciutto cotto o pancetta a cubetti (io ne faccio a meno).
3) aggiungere poco pomodoro passato (1 dl. per 3-4 persone) e salare.
4) aggiungere le patate sgocciolate, poi acqua fino a coprire e far cuocere
finche' le patate non si sfanno.
5) aggiungere la pasta (allungando con acqua calda se necessario) e farla
cuocere il tempo necessario. Se la pasta ha una cottura lunga, qualcuno
preferisce farla cuocere a parte, per scaricare l'amido, e mischiare con le
patate negli ultimi minuti di cottura.
6) volendo si puo' aggiungere pepe o peperoncino.

Buon appetito!

pasta and potatoes (this is really worth it!)
1) Cut up the potatoes (about 100g per person) into little cubes and let sit a bit in cold water.
2) Sauté some finely chopped onion in olive oil (a tablespoon per person) and ham or pancetta cut into little cubes (I do without this).
3) Add a little tomato sauce (about 1/10 liter for 3–4 persons) and salt to taste.
4) Add the peeled potatoes (should have been noted earlier, francesca!), then enough water to cover them and cook them until they...(?).
5) Add the pasta, with more water if necessary, and cook until done. If the pasta takes a while to cook, some people prefer to boil it separately, drain, and then mix into the potato mixture in the last few minutes of cooking.
6) If you wish, you can add some pepper or pepperoncino.

okay, so we compromised between her recipe and the cookbook version here. And you can learn from our mistake of using the whole bag of pasta instead of half.


3oz pancetta
2 T olive oil
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 small can (15oz) pelati (peeled Italian plum tomatoes)
1/4 t red pepper flakes
about 2 large potatoes, cubed (small)
3/4 c water
1/2 lb pasta mista
salt and pepper to taste
parmigiano for serving


  1. Food process the onion, carrot, and celery together and dump into a bowl.
  2. Food process the pelati.
  3. Peel and cube the potatoes.
  4. Saute the onion etc in the olive oil until translucent.
  5. Then add the tomato sauce and red pepper flakes and cook for about 4 minutes.
  6. Then add the water and cubed potatoes and salt to taste and cook about 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile bring pasta water to boil and cook the pasta in salted water until very al dente.
  8. Drain and combine with the other stuff and continue cooking until potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally.
  9. Serve with freshly ground parmigiano and black pepper to taste.


  1. We put the whole package in but it overwhelmed the tomato sauce already somewhat occupied with the potatoes. Half should be enough, unless you use a big can of tomatoes. Even so, bob had 3 servings. In addition to chickory and veal in a mushroom wine sauce. Maybe it was a bit too much pasta. But bob needs to gain some weight.
  2. While having a dish of this stuff (for a buck 75!) at an incredibly cheap and typically characteristic small roman osteria "da Giovanni" near the Vatican (via della Lungara 41/a: 06-68.61.514, closed sundays), bob complains of his own pasta e patata failure and later receives:

e-mail from rome

Ti scrivo la ricetta di "Pasta e patate" come mi ha insegnato mia madre:
questa ricetta è per 2 persone.

Ingredienti: 1 fetta di prosciutto, 2 pomodori senza semi, 2 patate, 1
pezzettino di cipola, 1 rametto di sedano, 1 pezzetto di carota, 2 pentolini
di acqua calda.

Soffriggere: olio, prosciutto e cipolla (tagliata a piccoli pezzi) -
Aggiungere le due patate: una tagliata a piccoli pezzetti e l'altra tagliata
in due pezzi, la carota tagliata a pezzetti piccoli, un pò di sale, i
pomodori a pezzetti e il sedano intero.

Mescolare (altriment si attacca) e aggiungere l'acqua calda. Coprire con
Quando la patata è cotta, tirare fuori i due pezzi grandi della patata e
schiacciarli in un piatto con una forchetta e poi rimettere questa
"pappetta" nella pentola.
Quando si serve, togliere il sedano e il prosciutto. Aggiungere il

Bob, è una ricetta molto "semplice", ma quando d'inverno la
faccio.......sono felice.
A presto.

or in other words:

I write you the recipe of "Pasta and Potatoes" like my mom taught me. This recipe is for 2 people.

Ingredients: a slice of prosciutto, 2 tomatoes without seeds, 2 potatoes, 1 little piece of onion, I celery stalk, 1 small piece of carrot, 2 pots (?) of water.

Saute: oil, prosciutto, and onion (diced) -
Add the 2 potatoes: one cut into little pieces and the other in half, the diced carrot, a bit of salt, the chopped tomatoes and the whole celery stalk.

Stir (otherwise it sticks) and add the hot water. Cover the pot.

When the potato is cooked, pull out the two big pieces and mash it on a plate with a fork, and then put this "baby food" back in the pot.

When served, take out the celery and prosciutto. Add pepperoncino to taste.

Bob, it's a very simple recipe, but when I make it in the winter... I am happy.


pstpotato.htm: 8-aug-2001 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]