What to choose? What to choose?
You’re in the mood for comforting pasta, standing in your pantry or grocery store and facing more choices than you gave a minute’s thought to facing.
Look at the bright side! You can have anything you want to have and maybe even some things you hadn’t thought about.
There’s always spaghetti. There’s always mac and cheese. There’s always lasagna. But if you let your imagination wander and go beyond the red sauce or cheese, you can have some real fun with pasta.
At The Purple Onion, we now carry the international Bona Fortuna pasta line featuring ancient grains and pasta varieties that are cut using traditional bronze dies to create each unique shape.
We offer Bona Fortuna sauces, marinara and spice mixes, as well as Terrapin Ridge and Stonewall Kitchen sauces and plenty of fresh produce choices. The WV Marketplace carries Oliverio’s traditional marinara and spaghetti sauces as well as the company’s peppers in sauce. That shop also carries Uncle Bunk’s rustic pepper sauce which some customers love with pasta.
In between our two stores, a Capitol Market shopper has endless pasta-bilities with meats from Johnnie’s, seafood from the Fresh Seafood Co. & Market, cheeses and wines from The Wine & Cheese Shop and oriental products at Sushi Garden.
But we digress. Let’s go back to choosing!
Pasta is versatile. You can opt for a classic marinara or ragu, creamy sauces like fettucine or fresh and herby light sauces. You can switch up meat for mushrooms, add seafood for something special or go all veggie.
And, as we all know, pasta comes in lots of shapes and sizes. Basically, there are long pastas, short pastas, sheet pastas, stuffed pastas and dumpling pastas.
Long pastas include well-known spaghetti, fettucine and linguini, along with wider-cut pasta like pappardelle and thicker spaghetti like buccatini, which resembles a straw.
Short pastas include elbows, penne, orzo, ziti, farfalle (butterfly shaped) and cavatappi (corkscrew shaped), as well as orecchiette (little ears) and radiatore (radiator shaped). At The Purple Onion, some of the shapes we carry include busiati, which is a long macaroni noodle that is twisted, and strozapretti, an elongated cavatelli noodle.
Lasagna is the best example of a sheet pasta.
Filled pastas are noodles that can be, well, filled. Like tortellini, ravioli and cannelloni.
Gnocchi is a dumpling pasta.
And, still, we haven’t decided what pasta to choose. We suggest you go with your gut — literally! If you’re looking for healthy and hearty, why not go with an ancient grain or whole wheat pasta like rigatoni paired with roasted vegetables. Sweet acorn squash and roasted tomatoes matched simply with pine nuts and olives make for a nice change-of-pace pasta.
Another one that we like is garlicky spaghetti with mixed greens. It would be fine on its own or make a great match for herb and garlic marinated shrimp or roasted salmon.
Not in the mood for Italian? Go South of the border! Add a bit of canned chipotle chiles in adobo to your marinara or tomato sauces to switch up the flavor. The Mexican Chicken with Penne shows what happens when you go this route, switching up the Parmesan for queso blanco and the parsley for cilantro.
Have a plateful of goodness with Pasta with Escarole, White Beans and Sausage. You can go for broke with a spicy Italian sausage or lean toward lighter with chicken sausage. You choose.
Brighten these or any of your pasta meals with a light salad like the simple Escarole Salad we include with these other recipes.
Once you start down the pasta path, you’ll be looking for ways to try out more choices!