Pasta, Potato and Parm 6.000

Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Nov 17, 2017

This is soupy comfort food with a nod to reducing food waste in your kitchen, as it tosses together leftover bits from various dried pastas you might have and the odd carrot or cheese rind. It is inspired by a recipe that chef Gennaro Esposito came up with for a turn in Massimo Bottura's zero-waste soup kitchen in Milan called the Refettorio Ambrosiano, where some of the world's most forward-thinking cooks have been challenged to make three-course meals from food that otherwise would have been thrown away.

The original recipe called for grating Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds, which you might normally save for flavoring soups. The rinds are edible and can be grated, but it is tough going. So feel free to grate any leftover pieces of Parm you have on hand.

Leftovers taste great cold, or folded into an omelet.

Serve with a salad.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 ounces diced pancetta
  • About 10 (5 ounces) cherry tomatoes
  • About 4 medium Yukon Gold or other yellow-fleshed potatoes (1 pound 5 ounces total)
  • 10 ounces mixed dried pasta shapes, preferably about the same size
  • 4 1/2 cups boiling water, or more as needed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds (may substitute 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; see headnote)


Cut the onion, celery and carrot into small dice; gathering them together is okay.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan or saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the pancetta and cook for 2 minutes, then add the diced vegetables, stirring to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are just starting to brown.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into quarters. Stir them into the pan; cook for 10 minutes, reducing the heat to medium-low to avoid scorching, as needed.

While they are cooking, peel the potatoes, then cut them into 3/4-inch chunks. Add them to the pan along with the pasta, stirring to coat.

Increase the heat to medium; pour in about half the boiling water, stirring to incorporate. Once it begins to bubble, cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. As soon as the mixture begins to thicken a bit, pour in the remaining boiling water; cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The potatoes should hold their shape but be just soft and the pasta should be al dente. Season generously -- a good four-fingered pinch or two -- with salt and pepper.

Grate most of the cheese from the Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds into the pan, then stir until the consistency becomes a little creamy. Taste and add salt and/or pepper, as needed. Add more water by the 1/4 cup, as needed.

Transfer to a large serving bowl and let everyone dig in, or divide among individual bowls. Grate remaining Parm over each portion. Serve right away.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Bread Is Gold: Extraordinary Meals With Ordinary Ingredients,” by Massimo Bottura and friends (Phaidon, 2017).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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