Friday, October 20, 2006

Al Dente Pasta: Favorite Things

It's no secret that I'm crazy about pasta. I could eat it everyday. Something about the texture of noodles is so appealing to me. I like glutinous chewy noodles, egg noodles, tiny little types like orzo, soup noodles, crispy noodles. I like them all, with the exception of mushy canned pasta like Spaghetti-O's, which incidentally I loved as a child.

While I always have dried pasta on hand, and I buy fresh stuffed pasta from time to time from an Italian deli, sadly I don't eat fresh noodles at home very often. I used to make pasta from scratch, but it was a fair amount of work and messy. I am creeped out by the pasta that comes in those little refrigerated packages from the supermarket. It doesn't really taste all that great and the plastic containers are pumped full of gases to keep the pasta "fresh". Yuck!

Recently I discovered a terrific dried "fresh" pasta made by a pasta freak like myself, Monique Deschaine (who learned how to make it from Marcella Hazan). Just like the pasta I made from scratch, it cooks up in just three minutes. It has that wonderful delicate yet toothsome texture so it's no wonder her company is called "Al Dente". Most importantly it actually tastes fresh.

Deschaine uses only durham flour, semolina and eggs, nothing funky. Her pasta comes in wonderful flavors too like the black squid ink variety I used recently to make a scrumptious seafood dish. It's also a bargain, you can find it in stores for around $5 a package or purchase it online for only $3. In addition you can buy gift packages of pasta that seem custom made for someone like me!