Fresh is a word used more than ever these days and for good reason—who doesn't like fresh? When it comes to fresh pasta we’ve witnessed through movies and elaborate stories on the food channel, a few simple ingredients skillfully and lovingly transformed into perfection by someone’s Nonna (grandmother). Always from scratch, often working on a wooden table with a golden light streaming through the window, this art is left to someone who can somehow imbue life’s wisdom with every turn of the dough. Lucky for you if you happen to have a Grandmother that can whip you up pasta, or if it’s a skill you have and your calendar allows.
In Italy, while Italians make fine and not-to-be-underestimated pasta fresca, their go to staple is pasta secca—dried pasta in box. Not unlike here, it’s convenient, cheap, fast to make, and easy to keep on hand. A difference though is the Italian attitude. Excellent pasta in Italy, dried or fresh, has the same cache and is celebrated with the same fervor. Make no mistake—not all pastas on the shelf are created equally. While many inferior pastas exist there are notable exceptions, and ours is one of them.
Now a days a lot of pasta producers tout the use of bronze dies that create the rough, porous texture that gives sauce something to cling to. But there's a lot more to excellent pasta than the extruding process. With so few ingredients in pasta each has to be exceptional to achieve a delicious and distinctive flavor. Our pastas contain only durum wheat semolina and water, so we have nothing to hide behind. To achieve a superb flavor we start with a superb wheat grain that is farmed organically. The water flows from a pristine mountain spring to the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains. The Dolomites’ are in northeast Italy between the Austrian border to the north and the big Venetian plain to the south. The family that makes our pasta here has been in the business since 1908. Both as farmers and pasta makers, they have been dedicated to organic, non-GMO farming with rigorous quality control in every step of the process.
Their pastificio is in the same breathtakingly beautiful place and it’s a short trip from field to factory. With control of milling and mixing and one hundred and ten years experience, their recipe is flawless. Once extruded, the pasta is dried at low, optimal temperatures for just right amount of time depending on the thickness of the cut—leaving the aroma and flavor of the grain intact. Cooked to perfection, our pasta doesn’t need a lot of dressing up. It’s delicious with just a splash of good olive oil and salt.
Cooking pasta perfectly takes a little attention and a generous amount of water, and is worth both. For a pound of pasta, you need at least five quarts of water brought to a roiling boil. How many times have you put dried pasta in a pot of boiling water only to have the boil recede and not return for minutes? With enough water at a high enough heat, a hard boil will return almost instantaneously when the pasta submerges. This is exactly what you want. Give it a single stir. Yes, salt is important, but once the pasta is in the pot—timing is everything.
We list the recommended cook time on our boxes, but depending on the amount of water and vigor of the boil, time is the variable that requires your participation. It’s relatively short, and seemingly shorter if you happen to be sipping wine while you cook. Al dente, or “to the tooth” is the goal. Taste testing the pasta through the cooking process is the only way to capture the exact doneness and should be done often. Seconds count. Al dente is a firmness without rawness that requires a deft touch. The pasta will have the perfect chew and you’ll taste the nuttiness of the wheat. When you taste it, you’ll know it.
Like we’ve said, our pasta is perfect with a good olive oil and a pinch of salt. Yes, we'll stand by that. Knock yourself out and add some cracked pepper if you want to get fancy—but it really is delicious without much on it. If you make a great sauce, our pasta will make it even better. Once cooked, drain it, leaving a touch of water and serve immediately.