According to the National Pasta Association, pasta is one of America’s favorite foods. In 2000 alone, 1.3 million pounds of pasta were sold in American grocery stores. If you lined up 1.3 million pounds of 16 oz. spaghetti packages, it could circle the Earth’s equator almost nine times.
Now, if you want to get really cute, multiply that by nine, factoring the argument that “in this economy” (God, I hate that term) people are eating more pasta than they were about ten years ago, we’re talking about a serious pile of spaghetti.
As much as I love the ease and convenience of boiling a pot of salted water and ten minutes later – Voila! Fettucine! – you have dinner on the table, I learned recently that there is nothing better than a plate of fresh, handmade pasta topped with a simple sauce.
Several weeks ago, my friend Jen and I signed up for a pasta-making class at a local hidden gem called The Urban Kitchen.
Located on a small side street in Hoboken, The Urban Kitchen offers gourmet cooking classes for small groups or private parties.
Though they have an extensive series of seasonal cooking classes, on this particular Friday night we were making pasta.
Our instructor, Chef Linda, was a dynamic culinary enthusiast who regaled us with amazing stories of her upbringing in Venezuela while she taught us how to mix and knead silky pasta dough.
We made two types of pasta: spinach linguine and ravioli with fresh crab and marscapone cheese. We eventually topped the pasta with al aioli and fresh tomato sauce, respectively.
Chef Linda guided us through the process of kneading dough by hand, for those who don’t own a stand mixer.
Everyone took turns kneading the dough (with freshly washed hands)!
At the end of the class, we were able to enjoy the fruits of our labor over
good wine ten dollar bottles of wine that we’d picked up on the way to the class:
Despite the incidental garlic overdose and excessive calorie consumption that likely occurred as a result of the class, it was a great time and I left with some solid tips for creating a perfect pasta dinner.
It was also nice to spend a few hours with strangers who like to cook and eat as much as I do…and no one was shy about going back for seconds!
What is your idea of a perfect pasta dinner??