WHAT'S COOKING WITH KURT
It feels like 2009 just got started, but March is zipping by, so get ready! The official starts of baseball season and spring are coming up fast. That means more meals on the go and busy schedules crowded with outdoor events, both reasons we’ve given our deli menu a seasonal revamp. This spring, we’re looking all the way back to Pasta & Co’s roots, to some of our first cookbooks with the superb, innovative flavorful dishes that put Pasta & Co on the culinary map. We’re talking about dishes with staying power - classics with Northwest style that for more than 20 years have made our stores Seattle’s favorite destination for great-tasting take-out food. Never pretentious, always satisfying, created with bold flavors and pure, clean ingredients, these dishes are as fresh tasting today as they were way back when. They’re definitely overdue at the table, and we’re excited to reintroduce them to you. We’ve also added treats for Easter and Mother’s Day selected by our Culinary Council experts to ensure sweet spring celebrations. Come taste what we’ve prepared to make your springtime meals exciting and extra delicious!
Yours for good taste,
PASTA & CO’S HERITAGE RECIPES
Call it comfort food. Call it Northwest contemporary cuisine. By either name, it’s a proven winner. We’re talking about the dishes and recipes that are the foundation of what we serve every day at Pasta & Co. They’re featured in two of Pasta & Co’s first cookbooks - Pasta & Co. By Request and Encore. Designed for “convenient, prepare-ahead cooking,” the recipes in both cookbooks reflect Pasta & Co’s signature style - a practical, reasonable cooking style matched with bold flavors, attention to nutrition, pure ingredients and convenient, ready to heat and serve dishes. Not surprisingly, the concept and the recipes are as fresh and distinctive now as they were back in the 1990s when the cookbooks were published - and every bit as delicious.
It might be a quirky coincidence, but in 1991 when Pasta & Co By Request was published, the economy was uncertain, just as it is today, and the prevailing mood called for no frills and back to basics. The emphasis then as now, was on “the pleasures of sharing food that is as wholesome and unpretentious as it is splendid and inventive.” Then, when Encore arrived in 1997, things had evened out and the emphasis in the kitchen was on trimming fat and building flavor. Lean foods had as much appeal as luscious rich dishes, and Encore offered both in a quest for adventuresome yet healthy cooking and eating.
Sometimes looking back offers insights into where you’re headed. We know looking back at our roots inspired the perfect theme for our spring deli menu. We hope you agree the result is astonishingly good food.
WHAT’S COOKING IN THE DELI CASE
When we find a dish that’s requested day after day, we know we’ve got a winner. When it’s one of our core dishes—a Pasta & Co original—that’s even better. Our spring deli menu showcases several Pasta &Co favorites dating back to some of our first cookbooks. Some have been out of sight for years! Take home one or two, add your own green salad and create a great-tasting, ultra-convenient meal for a weeknight supper or any of the upcoming spring holidays - Easter (3/12), Mother’s Day (5/10), and Memorial Day (5/25).
Starring in the main course role is PORK CHOP SALAD with meaty pork tenderloin slices lightly dusted with seasoned flour and browned, then tossed with caramelized red onions in a savory red wine vinegar/olive oil dressing. Served cold, this is perfect picnic fare. Served hot, try it as a tasty tortilla stuffing.
TORTELLINI IN OLIVE PASTE WITH GREMOLATA is also terrific for spring picnics or as a base for cooked chicken or shrimp. The dish combines plump cheese tortellini tossed with Pasta & Co’s own black olive paste followed by a generous topping of classic gremolata, a blend of coarsely chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Expect no leftovers!
Two light and lively chicken dishes are also on our spring menu. POACHED CHICKEN IN OLIVE OIL, GARLIC AND GREEN PEPPERCORN SAUCE has multiple possibilities. Use it as a foundation for pasta, or add to salad greens or blanched vegetables. Made with tender chicken breast meat seasoned with herbs, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes, it’s simple and versatile. CHICKEN AND FIGS WITH ORZO is a flavorful, low-fat dish combining brined, then browned chicken chunks, chopped dried figs, yellow bell peppers and onions, all tossed with orzo, a delicious rice-shaped pasta. Dressed simply with white wine and chopped parsley, it’s a guaranteed favorite.
Of course we all need to eat our veggies. We’ve got you covered with TUSCAN VEGETABLES. A colorful medley of sliced, blanched carrots, cauliflower florets, celery, yellow squash, sliced red and green bell peppers, and pitted black olives dressed with an herbal, mustard vinaigrette, it’s versatile and ready to accompany any number of main dishes.
SPRING PANTRY SELECTIONS
Look no further for sweet treats to mix with your dyed eggs. We’ve made assembling an Easter basket easy. Our favorites from LAKE CHAMPLAIN CHOCOLATES include a charming dark chocolate PLACE SETTING BUNNY, and TRUFFLE-FILLED CHOCOLATE EGGS with delectable flavors such as milk chocolate-caramel, milk chocolate-hazelnut and dark chocolate raspberry. For a quick gift, there’s also a POTTED EASTER BUNNY & CHOCLATE EGGS nestled into a teeny woven basket. From NIKKI’S COOKIES, we’re offering cinnamon-sugar BUTTERFLY SHORTBREAD in small and large sizes, each adorned with a three-dimensional butterfly created from the package closure. And yes, we have jelly beans! MARICH GREEN BEANS to be exact. These all-natural jelly beans are made with real fruit juice concentrates and colored with natural fruit and vegetable extracts. Of course, they taste great too!
To complement our spring cookbook selections, we’re featuring special, handmade Italian pasta from Donne del Grano. Striped in vivid rainbow colors made from vegetable dyes that hold up during cooking, choose either MOTHER-IN-LAW TONGUES (Lingua di Suocera) or BOWTIES for a festive springtime meal. Adding to the Italian theme, we’re also featuring our best-selling trio of pasta sauces (Marinara, Mediterranean and Moroccan). Make dinner in minutes and say, “Buon appetito!”
COOKBOOKS FOR ALL SEASONS
From familiar, homey fare, to healthful eating, Pasta & Co’s cookbooks span the spectrum of great taste and adventurous eating. We consider Pasta & Co Encore and By Request true cookbook classics. On our shelves and ready to inspire you, they’re what you’ll reach for time and again when you want a fast-and-easy mid-week meal, a zesty, made-in-minutes appetizer or a flavorful main dish.
Encore offers more than 120 recipes, many with smart tips for trimming fat and creating flavor or ways to use pre-made products like our pasta sauces to save time. By Request features your favorite recipes from our shops, the originals you’ve grown to love, plus practical tips for preparing dishes in advance, cooking dried beans, making terrific pasta salads and more. Add one or both to your kitchen library and you’ll give all your spring meals a lift.
KURT'S KITCHEN WISDOM
From our By Request cookbook, here’s an easy way to keep a jar of ready-to-use marinated olives in your fridge. Prepared ahead, they’re delicious stirred into salad dressings, sauces, sprinkled atop pizzas and more. Refrigerated, the olives will keep about 2 months. Vary the flavor by using kalamata or green olives for extra pizzazz. Chop or mince the olives before using them in a spread, filling or as a flavoring ingredient. We love this!
Marinated Black Olives
Makes about 3 cups
1/2 cup vegetable oil or mild-flavored extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (Approx. 3 large cloves)
2 (6-ounce) cans pitted California black olives, drained (Note: any size can works)
In a large, covered jar, mix together the oil, vinegar, oregano, red pepper flakes and garlic. Add the olives to the marinade, making sure they are completely covered by the liquid. Refrigerate 48 hours before using.