I know I should probably try and find joy in different places other than in food, but pasta will always be an incredibly cheerful place for me. Recently I found an abundance of bliss in a box of…you guessed it. Pasta Joy!
A good source of plant-based protein, pasta does not contain any additives and, although high in energy, can form an important part of a well-balanced diet. I mean, the whole Mediterranean-diet is based around pasta!
Pasta Joy – containing a higher protein than the average soft wheat pasta – is produced from premium quality soft wheat sourced from the heart of Europe.
Pasta contains vitamins A, B1 and B2 as well as iron and calcium. It is no surprise that pasta also forms part of recommended eating plans for patients managing diabetes, heart disease or even obesity – provided that it is consumed in appropriate amounts with kilojoule controlled portions (press release). In addition, it’s fat-free and low in sodium, and has a low GI so it doesn’t spike blood sugar. Did you know all this?
There’s just something so comforting about a warm plate of pasta, drenched in a creamy sauce, topped with handfuls of freshly cut herbs and ground pepper. As we all know by now, I was childishly excited when I received a box filled to the brim with Pasta Joy products, including spaghetti, fusili, macaroni, penne, elbows, shells and my all-time favourite variety, linguine.
Not needing any excuse or reason to make pasta, I pulled closer my dog-eared Jamie Oliver and Nigella cookbooks, as well as a handful of Fresh Living magazines for inspiration. Pasta is the perfect companion to almost any other ingredient and lends itself to most of the world cuisines. You can spice it up or cream it down; the possibilities and combinations for a wholesome, satisfying pasta meal are endless.
For my first recipe, I decided on a simple tomato and basil linguine, perfect for a light weekend dinner, coupled with a lovely bottle of wine and candlelight.
I’ve also developed a recent obsession with macaroni and cheese balls after having had them at a food festival recently, so I decided this was an opportune time to try these out, too. Never too much pasta!
an Italian feast in The Little Kitchen
The most important thing for me when it comes to a good pasta dish, is the quality of the pasta. Paired with simple, fresh ingredients, it shouldn’t need anything more. We tend to over-complicate things in life; including our food.
This tomato and basil linguine goes right back to the foundations of Italian cooking: onions, garlic, tomato, fresh basil, a handful of spinach and lashings of Parmesan. I found the pasta to be silky and creamy in texture, with a bit of a bite. And remarkably flavourful in itself! It didn’t cook into a soft, stringy and starchy bird’s nest – in fact, it came out of the pot as glossy, individual ribbons, with no residues.
It absorbed the sauce beautifully and took on the flavours of the herbs and spices I added to the sauce. I enjoyed this linguine dish in the company of a bold Chardonnay, which cut through the richness of the pasta and tempered the slight acidity of the tomatoes.
For the macaroni and cheese balls, I made a classic white sauce with loads of cheese, I fried crispy bacon bits and added in cooked macaroni. Again, the pasta shells were sleek and shiny as I strained it from the water, without the gloopiness of some household brand pastas. I mixed it all together, let it cool completely, rolled into balls, dipped in egg and a spiced breadcrumb, and shallow-fried until golden.
Even with the additional cooking session in the hot oil, the pasta kept its shape well and didn’t overcook or disintegrate. The macaronis are the perfect vessel to capture bites of the creamy cheese sauce, which seems to explode in your mouth as you crunch through the crumb.
I served these rustic arancini-inspired balls with a spiced tomato salsa and a lovely, light Chenin Blanc. Perfect for a snack, starter, or lunch box treat, these are great hot or cold.
To be honest, I always thought pasta is pasta is pasta. It really isn’t. I’m thoroughly impressed with Pasta Joy and can’t wait to see it on the shelves of my local grocery store soon. This was quite an enlightening experience as I researched different types of pastas and the nutritional value thereof. It is indeed such a versatile staple that requires very little preparation or cooking time. It’s nutritious, wholesome and I am yet to meet someone who doesn’t like the taste of pasta.
Cooking with Pasta Joy was exactly that. A pure culinary joy and feast. I can’t wait for summer. My pasta game will be strong, and my pasta salad will be the talk of the town this year.
For more information kindly contact Mohammed Essack, of International Food Group.
Tel: +27 (33) 332 0973
Mobile: + 27 (83) 786 1091
Brands include: Pasta Joy, Joy Instant Noodles, WOW! Peanut butter and Early Morning Oats
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.