Pasta, Pasta, Pasta

Our monthly Culinary Book Club met on Wednesday, February 5, 2014, from noon to 1 p.m. to talk about pasta. Members got to share their pasta stories, tell each other where to dine in St. Louis that they enjoyed the dinner menu, and even sample a freshly made whole wheat spinach pasta (yes, it was green!) that was served with a tomato based sauce that had mushrooms, chicken, oregano, basil, chipotle pepper, and salt to season. A yummy sampling of a simple spaghetti with sauce was enjoyed by all.

We discussed the various shapes and sizes that pasta can be made or bought. From little wheels to fancy bows, shapes can make eating pasta more exciting, especially for young children.

I have found that many children avoid anything with tomatoes, including my son when he was little. Pizza, spaghetti, were two foods that we found our day cares would always order with tomato sauce. What a bummer! Now, if I ever serve food to young children I always try to give them a no tomato option. What is that option? How about a white sauce? Made with flour and milk or water, a white sauce can be richer. Butter can be mixed into the flour to create a roux, while it is being heated in a deep pan. By adding thyme, salt, pepper, you can gently flavor your white sauce. If you enjoy a spicy sauce, add a curry or an ground ancho, a type of pepper.

During our book talk about pasta, we reminisced about the best places to eat .
Buffets were at the top of our list. However, for a fine dining, romantic evening with your loved one, more upscale restaurants were suggested.

I prefer to make a homemade meal where I can experiment with various sauces.
My favorite red sauce includes lots of diced garlic, chopped celery, ground beef, green peppers, tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced fresh tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, and for spices: salt, oregano, thyme, and basil. Again, I prefer to use fresh herbs rather than dried ones. The taste is much stronger. To make a more flavorful sauce, cook it one day, let it sit in your fridge overnight, then serve it the next day. Your spices will be more dramatic to your taste buds!

Check these out!
Brown, Ellen. 2012. Mac & Cheese: 80 Classic Versions of the Ultimate Comfort Food. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press.
D’Acampo, Gino. 2012. Pasta Italiana: 100 Recipes From Fettucine to Conchiglie. London, UK: Kyle Books.
Scappin, Gianni. 2013. Pasta: Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto, Crespelle, and Polenta Recipes. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley.
Tremblay, Carl Van Ackere. 2012. Pasta Revolution: 200 Foolproof Recipes That Go Beyond Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Brookline, MA: America’s Test Kitchen.
Zanini Da Vita, Oretta. 2009. Encyclopedia of Pasta.
Berkley, CA: University of California Press.
Zavan, Laura. 2010. Pasta Basics: 82 Recipes Ilustrated Step By Step.
Buffalo, N.Y.: Firefly Books.

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