WHAT'S COOKING WITH KURT
Italian cuisine is everyone’s favorite. Who can resist the fresh, seasonal, high quality ingredients of a healthy Mediterranean diet with its easily recognizable flavors? Or maybe pasta is the ultimate comfort food whatever your age. Either way, Italian cuisine is perfect for fast spring meals as days grow longer and outdoor activities beckon. (Did someone say baseball season is just around the corner? The Mariners?) The rich, familiar dishes, the wonderful garlicky and tomato flavors, are great for easy, weeknight suppers. You can build a meal with Pasta & Co’s Italian specials made with fresh ingredients and no preservatives or additives, or simply grab some fresh pasta to pair with our original marinara sauce. It’s a great base for almost anything and really one of the best jarred sauces out there with just enough complexity, acidity and texture. We’re also introducing a wine offering this spring, which we adopted from our sister company Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro. The one-of-a-kind selection features Northwest boutique wineries and their limited production varietals and blends. Be sure to check out our unique Italian pantry finds, too. The aged balsamic vinegar is a knockout and you won’t want to miss the amusing pasta selections. Buon appetito!
Yours in good taste,
THE FLAVORS OF ITALY
Pasta, polenta, tomatoes, garlic and seafood. Olive oil, wine, braised meats, Arborio rice, pizza, crusty breads, beans and basil. Delizioso! Italian cuisine is famously flavorful and easy to like. Regional and varied, it reflects Italy’s history of fragmented fiefdoms, mini kingdoms, wars, famine, plagues and peasant culture. Dishes were created as a result of poverty as well as wealth. Lying at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Arab, Greek, German and French cuisines also influenced regional Italian cooking. Early European explorers introduced the New World ingredients of tomatoes and corn. Add religious holidays and landscape as other important defining elements. For starters, Italy has 1,500 miles of coastline. From the Alpine north with its rocky coast and fertile Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto regions; to the agriculturally diverse center with Tuscany, Umbria and Latium encircling Rome; then stretching south to the islands of Sicily and Corsica, Italy’s cuisine is rich with traditions and flavors.
It’s possible to generalize and say cooks living north of Rome are more apt to use butter and prefer flat pastas, rice and polenta while those in the south choose olive oil and tubular pasta. But Italian cooks everywhere share a philosophy about food. As a whole, Italian cuisine is anchored in fresh, seasonal cooking, an appreciation for quality ingredients and family gatherings. When it comes to food, Italians are always exuberant about enjoying meals. No wonder we Americans take to Italian cuisine with our own enthusiasm!
INSPIRED BY ITALY: NEW SPRING DELI ITEMS
Italian is easy. Easy to like and easy to eat. We picked our favorites for the deli, great tasting dishes that won all-around approval at our Culinary Council tastings. They’re ready to go for weeknight meals, plus for all the spring holidays: Easter (4/8), Passover (4/2-10), Mother’s Day (5/13) and Memorial Day (5/28).
Take home ROASTED BELL PEPPER SPREAD and be inspired to make a batch of crostini or use it like pesto to toss with cooked pasta. A blend of finely chopped red bell peppers, piqillo peppers, garlic, basil, kalamata olives and feta cheese, it’s versatile and hands-down delicious.
Start a spring meal with FARRO SOUP WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE. Farro, the Italian name for spelt, an ancient grain that’s native to southern Europe, adds nutty flavor to a wholesome soup of diced onions, carrots, celery and browned, crumbled Italian sausage. Serve it as main course with a salad and crusty bread, and you’ll have dinner ready in no time.
For Italian-style main dishes with family appeal, there’s CHICKEN MARBELLA, boneless chicken breasts marinated in red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic and herbs, Italian plum tomatoes, capers and pitted green olives with white wine and brown sugar added to round out the sauce. Or take home BRAISED PORK WITH SPICES AND RED WINE, tender pork chunks in a tomato-rich, chicken stock and red wine sauce with onions, ground almonds and subtle hints of cinnamon, cumin and cloves.
We’re offering a super selection of Italian-inspired side dishes, too. Take home EGGPLANT PARMESAN, always a hit at the dinner table. Rounds of breaded and baked eggplant are layered with fresh mozzarella and Beecher’s Flagship cheese and then baked in our own rich marinara sauce. Buy extra to be sure you have leftovers! Or try BROCCOLI RABE. We’ve blanched this cabbage cousin and tossed it with garlic, red pepper flakes and sun-dried tomatoes before briefly sautéing it with toasted pine nuts. ROASTED YELLOW PEPPER COUSCOUS is another versatile side dish. Instead of traditional couscous, we’ve cooked the Italian version, friegola, or semolina pasta formed in cylinders and toasted in chicken stock and tossed it with puréed roasted yellow peppers and Beecher’s Flagship cheese. You’re invited to try these dishes and many other new items we’ve created for you to enjoy this spring.
STOCKING YOUR ITALIAN PANTRY
Choosing the best Italian pantry items could require months of tasting. We streamlined the process with careful pre-screening and recommendations from our knowledgeable staff. In fact, it took one taste of SAN GUILIANO EXTRA VIRGIN FRUTTATO to know we had a winner. Smooth with a rich, fruity olive taste, you’ll want more than one bottle of this luxuriously full-bodied and flavorful olive oil.
Balsamic vinegar is a “must” in any Italian pantry. Our selection hails from Moderna, the heartland of Italy’s balsamic vinegar production. Produced by the Malpighi family, SAPOROSA ages six years to earn its full, tart flavor with hints of flowers, grass and mustard. And we couldn’t resist SAPORINA, a jelly made from the same balsamic vinegar with only sugar and natural fruit pectin added. It’s light, refreshing taste will turn your morning toast into ambrosia or perfectly complement earthy, complex cheeses like firm, natural rind or hard, aged cheeses.
The humorous shapes and names of two naturally colored pastas from Pozzo del Re: MOTHER-IN-LAW’S TONGUES (Lingue di Suocera) and LEFTOVERS (Monnezzaglia) are equally irresistible. The first is shaped like twisted ribbons in rainbow colors, while the second is a jumble of various shapes literally left over from the company’s pasta production. Both guarantee dinnertime fun!
Italian pastries are acclaimed for their simplicity and subtle sweetness. Our find for a spring meal’s finale, or to serve with Saturday morning coffee, is a traditional, 4-inch-round buttery ALMOND CAKE topped with whole blanched almonds.
“BEST OF THE NORTHWEST” WINE PROGRAM DEBUTS AT PASTA & CO
We’re making it easy to taste outstanding wines from the Northwest’s best, small production wineries. We’ve adopted the program introduced at Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro, our sister company on Mercer Island. All the wines have been specifically chosen to showcase the superb winemaking skills offered by our region’s boutique wineries. Embark on a guided, ever-changing exploration to discover best-in-class wines and select small lot varietals. All wines have been vetted by Bennett’s wine aficionados. Spring selections feature Oregon and Washington producers, including: Fielding Hills Syrah, Bergevin Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Thurston-Wolfe Pinot Gris Viognier, and Cave B Blanc de Blanc (Sparkling).
INTRODUCING ALL-NATURAL ZEVIA™ SUGAR-FREE SODAS
Orange, cola or lemon-lime twist. We’ve got them all! These sugar-free, all-natural sodas from Zevia™, a local Seattle company, have just been introduced and we’re the first to have them. Sweetened with stevia, a sweet herb from South American rainforests, and erythritol, a natural sugar derivative from fruits and grains, and flavored and colored with natural ingredients, these are the natural diet sodas we’ve all been waiting for.
Explore the essence of Italy’s regional cuisines with a beautiful, hot off the press cookbook. Antonio Carluccio’s Italia: the Recipes and Customs of the Regions will take you on a gastronomic tour through Italy. Each chapter weaves together information on cultural and culinary traditions, local products including cheeses, wines and typical dishes, with representative recipes. Lavishly illustrated with striking photographs of people, places and food, this cookbook is a feast for the eye as well as the palate. Born in Italy and considered a leading European authority on Italian cooking, Antonio Carluccio, with his wife Priscilla, is owner of the acclaimed Neal Street Restaurant, the Italian food shop Carluccio, and several Carluccio’s Caffés, all in London. For anyone with an interest in Italian food, this cookbook is a must have.