A party on my plate….

I came home from work today in the dark. The issue I have with that is that it wasn’t even that late. With the first workday after the end of daylight savings time, I am suddenly hit with the fact that for the next six months, I will be commuting in the dark. And while I am sure I will get used to it in a few short days, the first day is just hard to accept. Upon arriving home, my first thought turns to what I would cook for dinner. After having spent yesterday cooking, testing out recipes and prepping for three upcoming cooking classes, I’m thinking something quick is in order, after all, did I mention it’s dark outside?

I go to my cupboards and my eyes turn towards some multi-colored bowties. Perhaps it’s my gloomy disposition that it’s dark outside that I turn to these colorful, and somewhat perky, pasta shapes. I mean, to look at them, they screams spring, pasta salads and perhaps a nice barbeque get- together. None of which were in the cards tonight. But nonetheless, I reach for them. I feel like they are going to somehow make me feel better.  I’m relieved to see that the colors come from spinach and beets, nothing artificial in here. They are made in Italy and the brand is “Natura Amica,” with a brand name like that, at least I know I am eating something somewhat healthier than white pasta.

The next decision is what to dress them with. While the possibilities are endless, as these would go well with either a simple tomato sauce, a vegetable base or creamy sauce, I opt for something quick, simple, and dare I say it, pre-made. I turn to a jar of Made In Italy Genovese Pesto from Gran Cucina. I feel a little like I am cheating, but alas, I comfort myself in the fact that both these ingredients are made in Italy, healthy, artisanal and as close to Italian comfort food as you can get without much cooking. Plus, the goal tonight is a quick dinner and I have no doubt that these will get me dinner in ten minutes.

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The oil in the pesto has inevitably risen to the top so I empty the jar in a small bowl and mix it well. The smell brings me back to a few months ago, during summer, when I made my own pesto with fresh basil and pine nuts. The ingredient list has cashews as one of the first ingredients. They are crunchy and there’s a healthy amount of them in the mix. A licking of the spoon tells me that this tastes just like homemade pesto. In the meantime, my bowties are cooking, the water is turning pinkish, but again, it’s the beets in the red strip of the pasta so no problem there. They’re very pretty to look at, and of course, the colors of the Italian flag, which no doubt was done on purpose by the manufactures.

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In less than ten minutes, the pasta is cooked. The bag says 5 minutes for the cooking time, but that’s a little too “al dente” for my taste so I let it go a few extra minutes.  I dress the entire half-pound bag with almost the entire jar of pesto. I leave a few tablespoons to dress the top before serving. This will easily serve 3 – 4 eaters. I even opt for a red dish, taking this red, white and green theme all the way.  It looks pretty in my plate and it does indeed perk me up a bit. For a minute, I even forget that it’s dark outside.

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Be sure to grab your own pretty bow ties and jar of pesto, after all, there will be plenty of dark and wintery days ahead. Best to stock up the pantry.  

For these and all other imported goodies, be sure to shop at: https://www.pastaandvino.com

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What to Pack for Italy

Cosa Mettere in Valigia per l'Italia

Everyone is always asking me what they should pack for Italy,
so I’ve created a quick reference guide that you can use for your next trip.

Hint: You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do!

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