Our classes on pasta were originally scheduled for April. The new time in August proved to be just fine. The waiting made us more eager to find out the treasures in store.
Downside is some of our regulars are still not venturing out. The folks in Columbus, LaGrange and Montgomery plus many here are staying home for now. Hopefully, we will all be able to get together soon.
This was not a “make” pasta class. The concept was to use five different pasta shapes with five different and unusual sauces. The stipulation – no red or cream sauces. In fact, a primary component of each was water.
At the beginning, we took a look at a dozen really unusual pasta shapes. It was fun to see these interesting examples. At the same time, we talked about the origin of some of them. There were rice noodles and fresh linguine along with the dried pastas.
The first sauce used onions and bacon. That got out attention. They were sautéed and combined with Parmesan and water. A touch of butter and parsley were all it took to finish. The wide pappardelle noodles were great with this flavorful sauce.
Next, we experienced full-flavored trapanese – Sicilian pesto. True, it has some basil but lots of other goodies too.
We used tomatoes, garlic, almonds, anchovies, raisins, capers and olive oil. A little spice from crushed red peppers and additional body from Parmesan. This one was really good and quite different than the popular version from Genoa. We mixed it with mezzi rigatoni and water. Topped with fresh basil, it was a delight.
Pasta with boiled eggs? Really? Absolutely because that’s what we had next. The shape was unusual. Fusilli col corti buco. It’s basically a strand of spaghetti wrapped around a thin rod until dry. This thick, tight bundle is a perfect mouthful.
The sauce had similar ingredients to the last one - olive oil, anchovies, garlic, capers and red pepper flakes. The almost cooked pasta was simmered with these and water until done through. Off the heat went in finely chopped eggs and lemon. Then parsley and Pecorino completed the dish.
We all agreed – what a surprise. How very tasty and attractive. Great thing is the dish is equally good as a pasta salad.
Our fourth pasta was farfalle – bowties – with corn and tomatoes. Fresh from O Grows, we had sweet corn and tomatoes. Along with a touch of onions and garlic with the pop of a small part of a jalapeno, we had a sauce. Plus some pasta cooking water, of course. Basil and butter finished the dish.
This was a substantial bowl of goodness. Light, but quite filling. You could certainly add some Parmesan. Also bacon or small shrimp for a true main course. Suffice it to say, we liked this one.
Last came simple spaghetti, but made with the addition of spinach in the dough. The sauce was primarily lemon and water with a bit of garlic. Parsley and Parmesan were added at the end.
This truly simple preparation was the hit of the class. We had never tasted anything like it. Bright and refreshing. The essence of summer. More please – even after four more before it.
There you have it. Two hours of pasta fun. We got to enjoy five different unique sauces. It showed us how the unexpected can be so rewarding. Not to mention a taste sensation as well.
In September, we explore pork dishes, all using cuts from the shoulder. Hungary, France, China, Italy and America are all on board. Follow In the Kitchen with Chef Jim on Facebook for a schedule and other info.
Jim Sikes is an Opelika resident; a food, wine and restaurant consultant; and a columnist for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him on Facebook at In the Kitchen with Chef Jim.
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