Another specialty of Basilicata is the Senise pepper (below). Writing in a Gourmet magazine article on Basilicata in 2006 (from which the pepper photo is taken), Evan Kleiman describes the pepperone de Senise: "named from one of the southern towns in which it is grown, it is long, thin-walled, and deep red when mature. Even the sweetest among them have the depth of flavor associated with a spicy pepper. In season, they are used fresh, bu the dried version, the paprika, is used in many of the regional dishes. When they are dried they are also made into crunchy cruschi peppers, which are quickly deep-fried, then cooled." You can't eat just one, he says.
All of the fresh pastas are normally served with a tomato-based sauce (peppery, frequently, as above), and topped with a regional pecorino.
An excellent regional dish can be found at http://www.classicpasta.com/, just click on "pasta" then on "orecchiette" and on "orecchiette with cauliflower and tomato". This is a classic.
Here is an unusual combination, adapted from the same Eric Kleiman in Gourmet:
Pasta with an arugula pesto and cherry-tomato sauce
Prepare the pesto:
- six cups of roughly chopped arugula
- two tablespoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted
- one-half cup extra virgin olive oil
- four tablespoons freshly grated pecorino
Put the pine nuts in a blender or food processor, and pulse until finely ground, but not too fine. Add the arugula, the olive oil, the pecorino, a teaspoon of salt, and pulse again until almost smooth.
the tomato sauce:
- three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- three garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
- six cups of cherry tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- one teaspoon salt
Heat the oil in a saute pan over moderate heat, add the garlic and cook until the garlic just starts to sizzle. Add the tomatoes and the salt, and cook over light heat, stirring regularly, for about fifteen minutes. The tomatoes should just be starting to break down.
For the pasta: one pound of the aforementioned scorze di mandorie, if one can find it, or make it; or orecchiette; or, most usually, a fettuccine of the south -- dried -- made by hand with just water and semolina. Cook the fettuccine in five quarts of boiling water (with a tablespoon of salt) until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta liquid. Return the pasta to the pot, add the arugula pesto and stir to get well-coated. Add some reserved liquid if too dry.