Canadian chef Stefano Faita grew up in Montreal's Little Italy watching his mother, Elena Faita-Venditelli, a well-known food personality in Quebec, prepare traditional Italian dishes. He relies on his roots for recipe inspiration.
Faita, whose show "In the Kitchen With Stefano Faita" airs weekdays on CBC-TV, also believes in eating healthily. When cooking with pasta, he suggests opting for a whole-grain version to add fibre to the diet.
Here is a recipe developed by Faita using whole-grain penne.
Whole-Grain Penne Bella Stagione
1 box (454 g) whole-grain penne rigate
90 ml (6 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for garnish
1 small onion, diced (about 175 ml/3/4 cup)
1 to 2 celery stalks, diced (about 175 ml/3/4 cup)
175 g (6 oz) Italian pork sausage (1 or 2), casing removed and crumbled
1 can (398 ml/14 oz) diced tomatoes
2 ml (1/2 tsp) hot pepper flakes (optional)
150 ml (2/3 cup) water
Salt, to taste
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut in cubes (about 250 ml/1 cup)
2 small zucchini, cut in cubes (375 ml/1 1/2 cups)
4 to 5 basil leaves
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
In a saute pan on medium-high, heat 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the olive oil; add onion and cook until translucent. Add celery and crumbled sausage and saute for 5 to 7 minutes until sausage has browned.
Add diced tomatoes, hot pepper flakes, if using, and water; season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a sufficient amount of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. In a medium frying pan, heat remaining olive oil and add eggplant and zucchini. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender but crisp. Set aside. Remove saute pan from heat; add basil, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Add pasta to sauce and mix well. If the sauce is too thick, add a little stock or water to desired consistency.
Serve pasta in a dish garnished with the sauteed vegetables, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a thread of olive oil.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Source: Created by chef Stefano Faita for Barilla, barilla.ca.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly identified Faita's mother as Josee di Stasio.