Years back, my mother took a Chinese cooking course and learned this recipe. Our family, including my husband now, has loved it for years. Napa cabbage is terrific this time of year. A vegetarian version is simple to make by subbing the pork with black mushrooms and slivered carrots. And remember, practice makes perfect and imperfect still tastes wonderful, so have fun.
Back in the day in San Francisco, when A16 was Zinzino, we lived just a block and a half away on Chestnut Street. One of our all-time-favorite dishes there was parchment-baked spaghetti and meatballs. It was, truly, the ultimate comfort food. The noodles were shot through with flavor with an altogether unique texture—chewy in a good, satisfying way. Zinzino turned into A16 not long after we left the city and that dish disappeared along with it. Until now. I’m happy to report that, after all these years, I’ve successfully replicated it here.
There's no denying, this pasta takes time; with three people it took close to an hour to roll out an entire batch. But if you've got a lot of hands you want to keep busy, it's a perfect dish. The rolling becomes relaxing as conversation blossoms around the table, turning out thick and chewy strands that get bathed in a simple, spicy sauce. If you're in a hurry, make the sauce from scratch and sub dried noodles for the homemade ones.
There are so many things I love about this pasta. For one, it’s packed with loads of my favorite vegetables. For another, its incredible flavor is the perfect illustration of just how delicious healthy can be. But it also, to me, captures the essence of the change of season: summer’s bounty exuding a homey scent as it roasts in the oven, a portent of the many braises to come. What can I say? This dish truly nourishes me body and soul.