A group of 20 or so 13-year-olds may not be the most enthusiastic set of cookery pupils. Or at least that’s what I thought. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’d been asked by our local secondary school to show a group of design technology students – in just one lesson – how to make fresh pasta. I decided that mixing and kneading pasta dough for 15 minutes probably wasn’t the thing that would float their boat, so I took along a batch of fresh dough (“here’s one I made earlier” – I’ve always wanted to say that) and focused instead on getting the kids to think about what we could fill the pasta with.
On our bench we had an array of ingredients: ricotta, garlic, fresh sea bass, cherry tomatoes, king prawns, herbs, parmesan, clams, Parma ham…lovely things, things you might not expect a school cookery lesson to be based on. Continue reading
Opinion is divided at Just so Italian HQ. You see, whilst every product we stock is tried and tasted by us before it gets anywhere near our customers, it’s not always a unanimous decision. Take these striped pasta bows, or farfalle, in fetching shades of the Italian flag. Some of us love ’em and some of us don’t.
“They’re not very authentic”, says Danilo. “But they’re fun”, says Alison. “I’m not sure”, says Alex. “They’re popular”, says Tony.
We’re all right, of course. They’re different, unauthentic, a novelty and actually lots of our customers like them. But here’s the most interesting thing. They are made by an artisan pasta maker in Piemonte, using only natural ingredients: durum wheat semolina and water and, for the colouring, spinach and beetroot. They’re made using traditional methods and dried in the best way – slowly at a low temperature. So for an apparently novelty product, these farfalle are actually very good. And they taste good too. Try them with simple pasta sauces, or even just some olive oil and good cheese.
Meanwhile our debate will rage on (you know what we Italians are like when it comes to discussing food). What do you think? Love’ em or loathe ’em? Email us your stripey opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(That’s Danilo’s not very authentic doodle, by the way.)
orecchiette con cime di rapa
Think of Puglia – the deep southern ‘heel’ of Italy – and you expect blue skies, warm sunshine, sunbleached beaches and shimmering olive groves. So it came as a bit of a surprise, when we were there recently, to be greeted by strong winds and a rain-lashed landscape. The usual white beaches and blue seas were decidedly grey and empty. But there’s always a silver lining (well, usually there is), and on this occasion it was the opportunity to try one of the region’s classic dishes – orecchiette con cime di rapa. Orecchiette is a dried pasta commonly served in Puglia, shaped like little ears, hence the name. Cime di rapa are turnip tops…doesn’t sound very inspiring, does it, but believe us this simple pasta dish is truly delicious. Continue reading