Happy world pasta day!
It appears that the first reference to pasta was back in the 12th century in Sicily. Much has changed. A lot has stayed the same! While I do not know what the first shape looked like -- now, we have oodles of shapes and tastes to choose from -- the basic formulation of wheat flour, water, and/or eggs is much the same. Personally, I prefer the taste of fresh pasta over the dried form; however, I appreciate the convenience and extended shelf life dried has over fresh. While I have created fresh pasta, hand rolling and shaping (so good), I usually reach for a dried pasta on busier days.
We recently celebrated our eldest daughter's birthday. For our family dinner gathering, I wanted to offer a pasta salad as part of the meal since she is a huge fan. Oh sure, I could have pulled a familiar recipe out of my stash or searched the internet for new ones to try but, I decided to experiment with some ingredients. You need to know that I wanted to use local ingredients for this salad: I'm in the middle of a self-imposed fall edition of a 100 day, local food #100falllocal challenge So, it was mandatory I incorporate local product from around our area.
Here are a few of the local ingredients I used including where I found them, and any other notes:
Romanesco broccoli - Riverbend Gardens at the Old Strathcona Market. It is such a conversation starter! This first documented in Italy chartreuse-colored, coned-shaped vegetable tastes and looks great in this particular recipe. It's a perfect star in an already Italian-inspired dish! Health benefits are similar to its cauliflower or broccoli cousins which include plenty of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
The Cheese Factory cheese curds - Italian Centre Shop or at the Old Strathcona Market. Basically, cheese curds are what is left after whey has been squeezed out from a process. You're left with a squeaky cheese (you can tell if it's fresh when you hear a squeaky sound between your teeth), that just doesn't only belong on poutine!
Garlic scapes - Peas on Earth at the Old Strathcona Market. Like the taste of garlic without the extra-pungent taste of the bulb? Basically, garlic scapes are the stems from hard neck garlic varieties. They are just as nutritious as garlic bulbs and equally delicious.
Carrots - Green and Gold Garden near the University of Alberta's south campus. I chose to bathe the pasta with a carrot sauce of sorts to add more nutrition and color with naturally sweet taste.
Notes: I used fusilli pasta in this recipe primarily because it is a family favorite, and I wanted the carrot sauce to nestle in the curly crevices. I used extra-virgin olive oil, Arbosana varietal, from Evoolution.
What's #urfoodstory when it comes to pasta? Explore your (pasta) food story: how do you feel after you eat pasta? Where did you first taste pasta... do you remember who was with you? Does it make any difference if the pasta is fresh or dried? Are egg noodles your preference or durum wheat? If you're gluten sensitive, you're not going to be able to eat traditional kinds of pasta but, there are gluten-free choices (that use, say, rice flour) in the marketplace as well. Have you tried any other type of pasta besides those that are wheat based?
Whatever your preferred pasta is, you can use it in the recipe below. Enjoy #worldpastaday any day!
- 16 ounces (454 g) fusilli pasta
- 3 to 4 cups Romanesco broccoli, or cauliflower or regular broccoli, in pieces
- 1½ cups fresh cheese curds
- 2 to 3 tbsp. garlic scapes, chopped, to taste
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ cup EVOO
- ½ lemon, freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 large carrot, peeled, cut in quarters
- ½ cup vegetable water, divided
- In two separate large pots, bring water to boil. One pot will cook the pasta, the other will semi-cook the broccoli and the carrots.
- Meanwhile, wash and prepare (chop) the broccoli and carrot.
- When water is boiling, turn down the heat for both. Cook your pasta as indicated on the package, in one pot. Drain when cooked to your liking. Set aside to cool.
- In the other pot of boiling water, add just the broccoli and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Then add carrots, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Drain but reserve a ½ cup of this vegetable water; set the vegetables and vegetable water aside to cool.
- Prepare the carrot dressing: add ¼ cup of the vegetable water, Dijon mustard, EVOO, lemon juice, and salt to a blender or food processor. Blend well. Add the semi-cooked carrot slices to this mixture and continue to blend until a creamy-like substance. Set aside.
- In a large serving, add the cooled and cooked pasta. Combine the pasta with the carrot sauce and coat well. Then add the vegetables, chopped garlic scapes, cheese, and remaining carrot water. Combine together. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- If you like, you can add a bit more EVOO and salt to your liking before tossing the mixture one more time before serving.