Tubetti cacio e uova (Tubetti with Egg and Cheese)

Here’s a great spur-of-the-moment Neapolitan pasta dish for a quick weeknight dinner or perhaps a midnight snack:

Ingredients

For each serving of pasta:

  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) of tubetti (aka ditali or ditalini)
  • A heaping spoonful of butter or lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 spoonful each of Parmesan and pecorino cheese
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsely, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Boil the tubetti in well-salted water. When the pasta is done, drain (not too well) and add back to the pot. Mix in the butter or lard and stir until the fat has completely melted. Then add a mixture of the egg(s) beaten with grated parmesan and pecorino cheese and parsley, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Stir briefly over low heat until the egg has solidified and serve immediately with some additional grated cheese (of either kind) for those who would like it.

Notes

The mixture of egg, cheese and parsley is a common one in Neapolitan (and other Italian) cooking. It is mixed with ricotta as a stuffing for ravioli or lasagna di carnevale, and it is used as a kind of  condiment or vegetables like zucchini, chicory or peas. It is also added, as a final florish, to lamb or capretto (baby goat) stew. Here it ‘stars’ on its own as the condiment for pasta.

The use of lard (called strutto in Italian) in this dish may surprise and even dismay some readers, but in fact lard, not olive oil, was the predominant traditional cooking medium in much of Campanian cooking, including many of its most famous dishes. It is the traditional fat for making ragù alla napoletana and for making pastry dough, making ‘lard bread’ known as casatiello, for sartù di riso. In the old days, even pizza was traditionally slathered with a bit of liquified lard. It is also excellent for deep frying. Olive oil is used in seafood dishes and, of course, in salads, and these days lard is giving way to olive and other oils for health reasons even in these traditional dishes.

Tubetti are usually considered a kind of ‘soup pasta’, and are commonly used for dishes with legumes, such as pasta e fagioli, pasta e ceci, pasta e lenticchie and pasta e piselli—all of which are either soups or ‘soupy’ dishes. (The exact demarcation between a thick soup and a soupy pasta dish is always a bit hazy). Its use here as a true pastasciutta is fairly unusual. Besides tubetti, I would venture that this dish would work well with just about any short, stubby pasta. If using a ‘soup pasta’ like tubetti, the dish is best eaten with a spoon rather than a fork.

This recipe is based on one found in La cucina napoletana by Jeanne Carola Francesconi (recipe no. 114).

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16 Responses to “Tubetti cacio e uova (Tubetti with Egg and Cheese)”

  1. 30 January 2013 at 15:54 #

    I love this recipe and make it often, sometimes included grated and sauted zucchini. It’s basically a vegetarian and kosher-friendly version of the more famous pasta carbonara. A great way to get kids to eat some protein with their noodles!!!!

  2. Jackie
    30 January 2013 at 12:51 #

    Is there a subsitute for the pecorino cheese?

  3. 11 December 2009 at 21:35 #

    This is so what I want for dinner tonight– after being out of town all week for work I could use a big plate of comfort right now! This totally fits the bill–

  4. 10 December 2009 at 21:26 #

    Thanks, guys, for your kind comments!

    @Diana: There's a book entitled “Fat”-I haven't read it but I have to think that it talks about lard, one of the most important traditional cooking fats for rural folk.

    @vegetable matter: I'd feel free to experiment, why not! But personally I'd stick with the vegetables that are usually paired with this sauce: chicory, peas, green beans, zucchini, etc.

    I suspect that eggplant or broccoli rabe might be a bit too strong to pair harmoniously with cacio e uova, but why not try it and let us know what you think?

  5. 10 December 2009 at 20:01 #

    whenever I see your title I know it is a must read – you never disappoint…interesting about the lard and I bet the animal fat gives it a whole other taste

  6. 10 December 2009 at 16:51 #

    Frank, I love this dish and that it contains lard! You know I've only just began to realize how lard was used traditionally and all of the vitamins and nutrients it contains, of course, when bought from family farms and not processed. Do you have any recommendations on literature containing lard? Great post! Lovely dish!

  7. 10 December 2009 at 15:25 #

    This sounds wonderful. I'm thinking about maybe adding some grilled broccoli rabe or sauteed eggplant. Messing with perfection?

  8. 10 December 2009 at 10:31 #

    Mmmm…pasta and cheese – perfect for a snowy evening meal.

  9. 10 December 2009 at 07:32 #

    Thanks, folks! Glad you like the recipe.

    @chef jay: Sure, any kind of short, stubby pasta would work fine. Feel free to experiment.

  10. 10 December 2009 at 01:13 #

    Looks simple and delicious…a very welcoming comfort food for anytime.

  11. 9 December 2009 at 21:43 #

    What a simple and comforting dish; it surely makes one feel like they are home when they enjoy it. I realize it's the cold weather that drives this need, but I am just madly craving foods like this!

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  13. 9 December 2009 at 10:33 #

    Is there any way I can substitute some of the ingredients like the pasta?I want to make one but I don't want it to be that costly. Help please?

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