Julie's Blog on Italian Pasta

The food Jeff cooked today along with the wine served is very typical of food from the Piedmont region of Italy.  Fresh pasta, Gorgonzola, herbs, wine and an amazing variety of produce are all a part of restaurants and Italian kitchens in Piedmont.  Ah, but we live in Ontario you say...yes, and we can cook the same dishes as cooks in Piedmont Italy right in our own kitchens!  Use fresh food, shop local whenever possible and when local is not available; buy the best quality products you can afford.  The reward is amazing food with spectacular flavour!

So, here’s the scoop about the some of the ingredients in Jeff’s the fresh pasta dish.  Let’s start with the cheese; it’s Gorgonzola, which is from Italy’s ‘top-of-the-‘boot’, Piedmont region; all I can say is it is oh-so-good!  It’s rich, creamy, and sharp. Although it has some sharpness, it’s milder flavoured than bleu cheese.  Gorgonzola is also lovely with fresh fruit or crumbled into fresh salads. Try it melted over baked potatoes, hamburgers, stirred into risotto or used on top of a pizza for a great flavour.Then there are the fresh herbs that end up on all Piedmont tables. We may not be able to snip fresh herbs outside in January but we can buy fresh herbs almost year round at our local grocery store, which is marvelous, since fresh herbs transform even the simplest dishes into food layered with flavour, all without adding additional fat or salt....bonus.
 
Fresh pasta is perfect with a sauce and the sauce in Jeff’s pasta dish is luscious. Cooking with fresh pasta tends to produce a softer texture and more delicate pasta than dried.  It will cook up fast, as in three to five minutes so be careful not to let it overcook. Fresh whole-wheat pasta is available at many grocery stores. There are Alternative grain pastas such as Kamut® whole-grain pasta), spelt pasta (made with 100% spelt flour) and quinoa (an ancient grain pasta similar to rice).For those who might be gluten free look for Corn and Corn-Blend Pasta, Potato-Blend Pasta, Rice Pasta, Sweet Potato & Buckwheat.

Then we have the excellent vegetables in the pasta dish; cauliflower, red peppers and yes...garlic.  Ontario garlic is amazing with its powerful and pungent flavor.  Stay away from garlic grown halfway around the world, it’s old as it sits on our grocery shelves and has far less flavour than Ontario garlic.(Click on Sue’s Blog to read about the garlic she grows at Tabletop Farm)

 Fill up on nutrient-rich vegetables as much as you can...fresh vegetables, rich in nutrients and fibre are really delicious AND essential for superior health.  Pasta dishes are conducive to almost any vegetable mixture, so choose your favourites and make an awesome pasta dish today!