If I could only keep one thing in my pantry, it would definitely be pasta. You can stock up on it without worrying about it going bad, it’s quick and versatile to cook with, and we all love eating it. Yay for pasta!
I was really excited to be invited to attend a “virtual” cooking class by Chef Lynn Crawford that was all about cooking my most favourite pantry staple – pasta. This fun event featured the new Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains, containing whole wheat paired with 5 ancient grains: quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet and sorghum. I watched with my kids on my lap in front of my computer monitor while Chef Lynn showed us lots of great tips and tricks for creating perfect pasta dishes. Here’s what she shared with us:
Top 10 Whole Grain Pasta Cooking Tips from Celebrity Chef Lynn Crawford
- Watch your cooking time: Pasta should be cooked according to the cook time guide on the package to achieve the ideal al dente texture. For a professional twist, cut one to two minutes off the suggested cooking time, drain and finish off cooking your pasta in the sauce.
- Skip the oil: There is no need to add oil to your cooking water. Despite popular belief, this actually takes away from the pasta’s final texture and ability to adhere to the sauce. Skip the oil and embrace the starchiness of your pasta.
- Water your pasta: When cooking pasta, use a large pot. As basic as it sounds, it will make a difference in the outcome of your pasta. You will need one litre of water to about 100 grams of pasta. Using a large pot will give the pasta room to boil and help keep the noodles from sticking together.
- Think salty sea: Add a generous amount of sea salt to the boiling water to ensure your pasta is well seasoned. You may even want to taste the water before adding your pasta to make sure there is enough salt.
- Avoid rinsing: For hot pasta dishes, never rinse the pasta after cooking in order to retain the starch and enable warm sauces to better adhere to the pasta.
- Create the perfect pair: Delicate pasta shapes go well with delicate sauces, and heartier, ridged shapes pair well with richer sauces and ragus. For example, try long thin pasta, such as spaghetti, with a classic marinara sauce. Penne, ziti or rigatoni lend themselves to thicker sauces with more texture, such as a ragu Bolognese.
- Embrace the texture: Whole grain pasta has a hearty, firm texture that’s perfect for cold or chilled recipes and marinates well in tangy dressings. The firmness of the noodles also provides a good base for both crunchy and juicy fresh vegetables.
- Top it off: With a nutty, rich flavour, whole grain pasta can take on other strong, complex flavours. Ingredients that pair well with whole grain pasta include garlic, chili, anchovies, rich pesto sauces, and bitter or dark leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard and radicchio.
- Take the heat: When preparing hot pasta recipes, keep your serving plates or bowls warm in an oven set to a low temperature until you’re ready to serve. This will ensure that your final dish stays nice and hot.
- Crank up the flavour: Whole grain pasta is an easy base on which to build a healthy and delicious meal. Incorporate a lean protein, plenty of fresh vegetables, and seasoning with big flavours in the pasta for an even more nutritious and satisfying dish.
I really wish someone would invent a way to smell and taste food through a computer screen, don’t you? Since that’s not possible, I made one of Chef Lynn’s recipes by myself at home. We tried Spaghetti with Turkey Sausage and Kale. I chose this recipe because it has healthy ingredients that I love to use in my meals, like chickpeas and kale. The chickpeas were very popular with the kids; they love anything with chickpeas. I left out the hot pepper flakes though, because my kids don’t like spicy stuff. And I used canned tomatoes, because I’m lazy and didn’t feel like chopping fresh tomatoes. It was a super easy meal, and so tasty! I’d totally make this again.
- 1 pkg (340 g) Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains Spaghetti
- 2 each shallots and cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 3 turkey sausages, casings removed
- 1/4 tsp (1 ml) each hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper
- 6 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup (250 ml) no-salt added canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups (500 ml) thinly sliced kale
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) sliced fresh basil
- Sauté shallots and garlic in oil for 2 minutes in a nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Add sausage, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook for 10 minutes.
- Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Add kale during the last minute of cooking; drain well. Toss with sausage mixture to coat. Sprinkle with basil.
Would you like to try Catelli’s new pasta for yourself? Here’s your chance! You can win a year’s supply of Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta (that’s 60 boxes, in case you’re wondering) by entering with the form below. Just think of all the amazing pasta dishes you can make with that prize. This contest is open to Canadian residents only, and will run until Wednesday, April 15. Good luck!
I also have a link to a coupon for $1 off Catelli ancient grains, right here: Catelli Coupon.
Disclosure: I received complimentary Catelli products and participated in the cooking class organized by Gail Bergman PR. All opinions in this post are my own.