To Market with Mo: it's not about the sauce

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When I hear the word 'whore', I think, 'lady of easy virture'. So when I am to meet the Pasta Puttana, I try to prepare myself for what someone, who calls them self a pasta whore, looks like. Wow...and cute, fresh-faced, natural, curly haired red-head (think Charlie Brown's adorable forever crush) was not what I had conjured up in my mind.

Now that we have the original image shaken from our head, Jessica Volpe, said Pasta Puttana, decided to turn her love of pasta into a business, so that she could encourage folks to cook good fresh food at home. And, being the whore she is for pasta, and pasta being one of the least intimidating things to cook on ones own, it was natural that it was pasta that Jessica would craft. And let me tell you, this artisanal pasta is...let's just say, it leaves me speechless.

If your idea of 'pasta nite' is a box of spaghetti laden with commercial (oh, the horror) jarred marinara, or a thick cheesy sauce, then you know what? Stick with the boxed macaroni. Jessica's pastas, made from local organic ingredients (ONLY) and that take hours to handcraft, deserve so much more. Or less, as the case may be. Just a bit of high quality olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt is all that is needed to bring out the complete and utter deliciousness of Jessica's silky ribbons of pasta.

So you want to get a bit more elaborate than salt and olive oil? On the back of each package of pasta, the pasta whore herself provides, not elaborate recipes, that can cause frustration or intimidation (depending on one's prowess in the kitchen), but great flavor pairings to help inspire one's creative culinary freedom. Oh, this is so a girl up my alley. Inspired by Jessica's suggestion to pair her whole wheat (OMG honestly, if ever turned off by a boxed whole wheat pasta, you will completely change your mind after trying Pasta Puttana's whole wheat, nutty delicious ribbons) pasta with roasted shallots, I took things a wee bit farther with the following recipe:

Mo's Springtime Whole Wheat Pasta
(2 entree or 4 appetizer servings)
1 package of Pasta Puttana Whole Wheat pappardelle
Olive oil
2 good sized shallots roasted, and silvered
1 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup fresh peas (ok, frozen will do in a pinch)
1 cup edamame (shelled, and yes, frozen works)
sea salt to taste
1-2 T fresh goat cheese (with lemon essence if you can find)
Lemon zest

Put a large pot of salted water onto boil. Meanwhile, heat (on medium high) a drizzle of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add garlic and heat till that garlicky good smell wafts to your nose. Add the snap peas, peas and edamame, and saute for a few minutes. Stir in the roasted shallots and then turn off the burner.
By now the pot of water should be boiling furiously. If so, add the pasta and stir immediately. DO NOT walk away expecting pasta to cook for 8-10 minutes, remember this is not boxed. Cook for 20 seconds (yes, you read that right. 20 seconds). Strain pasta.
Add pasta to the sauteed veggies. Toss pasta and veg together.
Divide among serving bowls, and garnish with a pinch of lemon zest and a few crumbles of goat cheese per serving. Devour pronto.

Whole wheat is only one of the rotating flavors that the Pasta Puttana crafts. Look for golden egg, white wine, roasted squash, wild mushroom, seasonal herb, fiery red chili, seasonal garlic, and perhaps, a few surprises this coming market season.

You can find Pasta Puttana pastas at the following locations:

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