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Barely Bolognese
Mint Pesto
Pink Pesto
Pomodoro Basilico
Sugo Rosa
Barely Bolognese
Pink Pesto
Tuscan Vodka
The History of Pasta
Pasta Americana
Pasta—from simple mac ‘n’ cheese to spaghetti with truffle oil—is a staple in many of our diets and is largely associated with Italy, although multiple theories persist about the origin of this popular carbohydrate.
Some say that Thomas Jefferson introduced the Americas to macaroni in the late 1700s after his travels in France. Others maintain that the Chinese first dished out millet noodles thousands of years ago, and that Marco Polo brought pasta to Europe after his journeys to Asia.
While it’s entertaining to think of these famous personalities gifting the world with one of our favorite foods, there is actually enough evidence of pasta-like noodles used by ancient civilizations like the Romans and Etruscans to suggest that the food mostly evolved from that region over a long period of time.
The story that is likely the most true in the legend of pasta is that of the Arabic introduction of a dried pasta to Sicily that was produced in large quantities in Palermo, circa the 8th century. This Arab-influenced noodle quickly became an influential part of the region’s culinary style and spread to other parts of Italy through the availability of durum wheat, the hard wheat essential for making the semolina flour needed to make pasta.
Regardless of its true country of origin, the Italian influence is seen in both the style and the names of our favorite pastas. The word “macaroni,” for example, comes from the Sicilian word for the labor-intensive process of pounding pasta dough.
The popularity of pasta has been persevered over the years because of its intrinsic property to last for long periods of time. In the 14th century, dried pasta was popular not only for its nutritional value, but also because it was an ideal food to store on the long exploratory sea voyages of the day. In this way, pasta arrived in foreign lands over the next hundred years and evolved with local customs and ingredients. This progression of shapes and recipes culminated in the 19th century with what today seems a natural partnership: pasta and tomatoes.
Although there was a healthy amount of suspicion when tomatoes were brought from the New World to the Old, eventually the fruit was embraced and became a dominant ingredient in Italian pasta recipes. Prior to this, it is said that pasta was eaten with the hands, and so with the introduction of an accompanying sauce, pasta influenced not only what we eat but also how we eat it!
When it comes to eating pastas, the Italians definitely hold the title for eating the most of it. At an estimated 60 pounds consumed per person per year, they outshine even the Americans with their 20 pounds per person per year. It makes sense then that the Italian standard for pasta making has become the norm all around the world, as Italian law requires that dried pasta must be made with 100 percent durum semolina flour and water.
Without even counting regional specialties, there are around 350 different shapes and varieties of pasta, available dried, or pasta secca, and fresh, or pasta fresca.
Dried Pasta
The variety of shapes found with dry pasta is intended to trap and hold onto sauces used in their recipes. Dried tube pasta, such as ziti or penne for example, is usually made with ridges or lines for this very purpose. The bumps and ridges come from when the pasta is forced from a copper mold and cut into the desired shape before drying.
In mass-produced pasta, steel molds make the noodles too smooth for holding on to sauce. This kind of pasta is also dried at much higher temperatures for shorter periods of time than traditional, quality Italian-style pasta. Companies that copy the Italian methods of copper molds and slow cooking at low temperatures make pasta with the best texture and a speedy cooking time at home.
Fresh Pasta
IBasically, all pasta starts out as fresh pasta, and the difference between fresh pasta and dried pasta is in the texture and the ingredients. As one might expect, fresh pasta is softer than dried, and can be made with flour and eggs or semolina and water. These variations arose from regional variations and are still used today.
IThe Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is perhaps the most well known source of fresh pasta. Here, pasta chefs will combine fresh pasta with cream sauces, butter sauce or Bolognese meat sauce, or even serve it stuffed as ravioli or tortellini.
Cooking Pasta
It is the preferred, authentic, traditional way to cook pasta until it is al dente, or firm yet tender. For larger pasta like lasagna, adding a little bit of olive oil to the cooking water can also reduce stickiness, but it’s not necessary if a large pot and a healthy amount of water are used to make sure every inch of the pasta is cooked. It is also quite important to remember that the only time to season pasta is when it is being cooked, so adding salt at this point of the process is best.
Remember to stir the pasta regularly with a wooden spoon during the process, and when draining don’t forget to save a cup of the water in the pot to add body to your sauce. Unless you’re making pasta salad, don’t rinse off the pasta after cooking, as that will wash off all the starch and salt, which reduces flavor.
For sauces, unless you’re following a specific traditional recipe, you can feel free to experiment and follow your personal tastes. As a rule of thumb, a simple pasta works best with a simple sauce, and shaped pasta provides a better hold for thicker sauces. With so many combinations of sauces and shapes, the possibilities are virtually endless! Just remember that for the best quality meal, you’ll want pasta that is cooked properly for authentic flavor.
Viva la pasta and buon appetito!
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Pasta Never Had It So Good
Be our guest and enjoy the passion.
By Loretta Lamont
This is a very easy to prepare & delicious side dish recipe. Enjoy this amazingly delicious mouthwatering Marinated Fresh Artichoke Hearts.
- 2 (18 oz.) pkg polenta, cut into 1/4\" slices
- 1 jar Sauces n Love Marinara sauce
- 1 jar Sauces n Love Pesto sauce
- 1 cup 6 cheese Italian cheese
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 8 oz Ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, Garlic Powder, Pepper
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
Cooking Instructions
1. Mix Ricotta with egg, Garlic Powder, pepper & 1/2 cup mozzarella.
2. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 11x7\" baking dish with Pam.
3. Put a little sauce on bottom, arrange a single layer of Polenta.
4. Spread a layer of Pesto on Polenta. Spread Ricotta over Pesto, spread mozzarella on top.
5. Spread a layer of sauce on top of mozzarella.
6. Put another layer of Polenta, cover w/6 Italian cheese and sauce.
7. Bake 40 min.
8. Top with remaining cheese & Pine nuts and broil until nuts are brown.
9. Let sit for 20 min. before serving.
Marinated Fresh Artichoke Hearts
By Joe Barracato
This is a very easy to prepare & delicious side dish recipe. Enjoy this amazingly delicious mouthwatering Marinated Fresh Artichoke Hearts.
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 4 medium-sized artichokes
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
Cooking Instructions
1. In medium-sized bowl, combine water and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Set aside.
2. Prepare artichokes, 1 at a time: With fingers, snap off and discard all dark-green outer leaves. Then cut off 1 inch straight across top of artichoke, letting only the tender pale-green leaves remain. Cut off stem and trim any remaining tough leaves at base and top of artichoke (artichoke will resemble a closed flower bud). Cut artichoke into 4 wedges; place wedges in lemon-juice mixture.
3. When all artichokes have been prepared, remove artichoke pieces, 1 at a time, from lemon-juice mixture to cut out fuzzy choke from center of wedges; cut each wedge into three thin wedges. Immediately return wedges to lemon-juice mixture.
4. Drain artichokes and pat dry with paper towels (artichokes will darken on standing).
5. Immediately, in medium-sized bowl, combine artichoke wedges, olive oil, garlic, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice; cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.
Creamy Mushroom Love Sauce
A Vegetarian's delight.
by Alice T. of New York City, NY
- 2 jars Sauces 'n Love Sugo Rosa
- 2 large sweet onions, thin sliced
- 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Handful fresh chopped tarragon
- 2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
(S&P and chili pepper flakes)
- 2 lbs assortment of wild mushrooms:
shitake, cremini, oyster, portobello - your fantasy
- 1 bag fresh spinach
- 2 lbs Penne Rigate
Cooking Instructions
In a large skillet, put olive oil in pan; over medium heat.
Add onions reduce heat to low and caramelize onions while stirring.
Add spinach and reduce until withered.
Add mushrooms for 8-10 minutes until soft.
Flavor with Montreal Steak Seasoning.
Add freshly chopped tarragon and stir.
Stir in Sauces 'n Love Sugo Rosa until heated.
Serve hot over cooked penne (according to directions on label)
Optional: Serve with tomato & fennel salad - chopped tomato, thinly sliced fennel, evoo, salt, pepper, lemon
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