We all have days where we feel pressed for time. Coming home exhausted from the days work and rush hour commute, it can be difficult to resist immediately flopping down on the couch with a glass of wine, let alone to motivate yourself to cook a homemade meal. On days like these, I’m always looking for ways that can get me a hot plate of food as quickly as possible. Take out, burritos, or inappropriate potions of chips and salsa quickly become tempting options. Paradoxically the most restorative thing for me on these days is a comforting home cooked meal. But it can be frustrating to try to peel onions and garlic while still dwelling on that performance review you had with your supervisor.
In my opinion, nothing solves the weeknight dinner challenge like pasta. It’s naturally versatile, comforting and most importantly, simple, quick and delicious. At Savenor’s, we’ve recently been upping the game when it comes to potential options for weeknight pasta meals that will boost you back up, or at least take your mind off work. We have several new options in our grocery section from all kinds of quality independent brands, making unique, fresh selections to inspire some great pasta dishes.
Here are a few highlights:
Vallacenti Organico is a local brand that we have carried for some time now, and they’ve been on our shelves for a reason. The company prides itself in “growing and preserving our own food, using time-honored traditional methods.” They grow their own ingredients and prepare them with care. Their sauces are delicious and have the taste of that authentic secret recipe, passed down from someone’s Italian grandmother. Their fresh pastas, like their garlic scape linguini pr blonde fettuccine can be found in the case, and their gourmet ravioli, which come in many exciting flavors, like roasted beet with pecorino, or truffled wild mushroom, can be found in the freezer case. Vallacenti always gives you a quick, fresh meal that with that homemade feel, sure to satisfy after a long tough workday.
Cappello's is a new brand that we have been carrying that has refined the gluten- free, grain-free pasta recipe down to an art. I had never heard of the brand before, but some of our customers seem to know about it already and have told me that they were thrilled to see that we have started carrying their pastas and gnocchi (and gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough!) – we have barely been able too keep them in stock! I tried their gnocchi, which made a great easy meal with the Vallacenti Red Gravy. Personal tip – I’d cook the gnocchi just a minute or two longer than they say on the package for the best texture. *Available in Cambridge
Nella Pasta is local company that, as their name meaning “in the pasta” suggests, are completely dedicated to making ravioli stuffed with the finest, freshest, seasonal and local ingredients, in true Italian style. Pasta has the versatility to take on so many flavor combinations, and you can find many great options stuffed in their raviolis. I tried their corn, caramelized onion, and thyme. What impressed me most with Nella was not just their original flavor combinations, which include smoked mozzarella, white bean and sage, roasted cauliflower, rosemary and gruyere, and roasted beet, goat cheese and tarragon among many MANY others. It was the noticeable quality in the freshness of the local ingredients that they make a point to use. Nella really impressed me as a great option for a weekday pasta meal that checks off on ease, healthfulness, and use of fresh local ingredients. *Available in Cambridge soon!
Sfoglini is an independent brand from New York City that prides itself in producing “small batch, freshly extruded pastas made from the finest organic flours produced in America.” When I think about this brand, it manifests two of my favorite qualities of pasta. First of all, I am always amazed thinking about how pasta is extraordinarily simple. I look at the ingredients and see just two: Organic Durum Semolina Flour, and water. I also love the depth of pasta traditions in different regions of Italy. Each place seems to have a totally unique shape, or small alteration giving the most basic staple food an unbelievable cultural depth. It amazes me how years of tradition and culture can somehow transform something so basic, grain and water, into so many gorgeous and delicious varieties of pastas like Cavatelli and Spaccatelli. Sfoglini resonates with these qualities, and offers niche varieties of pasta that you will not find in the common pantry, like the Malloreddus, a Sicilian pasta infused with Saffron, or the Cuttlefish Spaccatelli, which is infused with cuttlefish ink and pairs its briny flavor nicely with seafood pasta dishes. Check out recipe ideas to take advantage of their unique products. *Available in Cambridge
Ternetta makes a linguini shaped pasta that is imported from Switzerland, with noodles that are about sixteen inches long. I took home a package of these noodles, which to me were begging to be made into a quick and simple Carbonara. With some farm fresh eggs and house made Guanchale from the case, you could not ask for a more authentic Italian meal, even if it were the weekend. *Available in Cambridge
Next time you come by Savenor’s to pick up your order of pork, make sure you also give pick up one of these great pastas to try. When you come home from work thinking to yourself, “I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday,” you’ll be happy to see one of these pastas ready for you to make a quick and restorative meal to get you through the week!