Quanto basta: Missy Robbins pares down pasta to the simple and basic

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Picking great tomatoes and not overcooking is the key to a great sauce, says Missy Robbins. Photo by Kelly Puleio.

Despite being a Jewish kid from Connecticut who was raised in a kosher home, Missy Robbins knows her pasta, cultivating a love and flair for fettuccine as a teenager. After training in Italy and working at Chicago’s most iconic Italian restaurant, Spiaggia, Robbins settled in Brooklyn, where she runs the acclaimed Lilia and Misi. In her new book “Pasta,” she explains the marriage between pasta and sauce. “Quanto basta,” which translates to “as much as is necessary,” is the notion of simplicity, removing ingredients and getting down to the essence of the pasta where enough is enough.


Adding buckwheat, chestnut, chickpea, or whole wheat flour will boost flavor to pasta, but Missy Robbins always mixes them with double zero flour to maintain preferred texture and mouthfeel. Photo by Kelly Puleio.


In her book “Pasta,” Missy Robbins admits that it wasn’t until her time in Italy that pasta became more than just noodles with a ladle of sauce. Photo courtesy of Ten Speed Press.

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Evan Kleiman