Saturday, October 26, 2013

Taste de Italia: DeCecco and Amoretti

DeCecco pastas, olive oil and pesto all offer a unique glimpse into authentic Italian cuisine.
I can remember growing up in the NYC/Metro Area and visiting with friends and family living within the five boroughs. My aunt lived next door to Italian immigrants who shared their age-old cooking secrets and ingredients with her. As a result, her pasta dishes always tasted SO much better than my Mom's (sorry)! Auntie shopped where they did, used the same ingredients and therefore got results equal to her Italian neighbors. Starting with the pasta...there IS a difference.

DeCecco de Italia Rigatoni, Olive Oil and Pesto
This Italian based company makes everything you could possibly need to pull off authentic Italian cuisine. Most everyone has had baked Rigatoni or Ziti. Well, you only THINK you have.  DeCecco's is the first Certified Pasta which means it has the selection of the best durum wheat which gaurantees a greater firmness of the pasta while cooking. I've found this to be true. In the dish below, I cooked the DeCecco Rigatoni No. 24 until al dente for about 11 minutes. I baked it in the oven afterwards and it still retained a great deal of pleasant firmness while expanding to absorb the flavors of the sauce. A teaspoon of their Pesto and a drizzle of their Extra Virgin olive Oil made with only Italian olives garnishes the plate.

DeCecco Rigatoni with tomato sauce, sausage and mozarella cheese.

Works with Seafood
The sky is the limit with what you can do with pasta but the true test is how well it blends with the delicate flavors of shellfish and other seafood offerings. Heavier flavored fish such as salmon can handle most sauces but clams and oysters require more delicate nuances like white wine. 

My favorite Sewansecott Clams and hot Cherry and Poblano peppers.
DeCecco Angel Hair
With seafood, I prefer a lighter mouthful of pasta so I prefer to add my clams and oysters to the thinner Angel Hair Pasta. It's cooks up perfectly in only 2 minutes as it is made by a traditional processing method of slow drying at low temperatures. No gummy or sticky texture. Just perfection. Here it is with these same clams only they have been steamed first.

DeCecco Angel Hair with Sewansecott Clams in a red sauce.
Give the Gift of Good Taste
One of the things that I like to do is to give a gift basket of some of my favorite foodie things to friends and family. You can make up a Taste of Italy Inspired Basket by filling it with pasta, herbs, sauces, Parmigiano cheese and olive oil. An Italian man once told me, "If you got a jar of sauce and a box of pasta you've got a meal!"
Very true. I add our garden fresh eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and squash to my sauces for a super nutritious serving of beta carotene and vitamin C. Make your own gift basket or select a set from California based Amoretti for a tasteful holiday present.

Amoretti makes organic infused oils packaged in Gift Sets for the holidays. Pictured here are their Organic Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar & EVO, Pure Organic Kalamata EVO and Premium Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar.

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