In our household, pasta is our favourite staple…Yup, we love it more than rice. More often than not, we end up eating Italian more than Chinese when we feel like a good treat. So when the good folks at Barilla sent us a media invite for an exclusive master chef cooking class with Italian Chef Luca, I said yes immediately. Not many people know that I feel somewhat ashamed that as a wife and Mom, my pasta cooking is mediocre at best. I mean, what’s so difficult in cooking pasta right? Turns out like any outstanding cuisines, there is an art to it.
|There’s a reason why it’s #1.|
Barilla products are available at all major supermarkets (i.e. NTUC, Cold Storage and Jasons) but I’ve never thought much of it (Confession: There are so many pasta brands to choose from and I usually end up buying whatever’s on offer). Hence, last week’s cooking session was such an eye-opener. Here are some amazing facts I found out about Barilla:
1. It started as a family business in 1877 and is still run by the Barilla family till this day. It’s slogan,“Dove c’è Barilla, C’è Casa” means “Where there is Barilla, There is Home”. Barilla aims to help people live better, by bringing well-being and the joy of eating into their everyday lives.
2. Barilla is the #1 best-selling pasta brand in Italy and USA. This attests to its popularity.
3. Barilla is the largest pasta manufacturer in the world and export its pasta (and sauces) to more than 100 countries (quite an incredible feat for a family-owned business!).
4. Barilla sauces are 100% FRESH with ZERO preservatives. Each 400g jar contains at least 8 to 10 ripe plump Italian tomatoes (we don’t even use that many tomatoes when we cook a sauce from scratch, don’t we?).
5. Barilla takes their role as the Italian Pasta Ambassador to bring authentic Italian cuisines to the world very seriously (and I must say they have been very successful in doing so!)
|Check out the range of Barilla Pasta on the shelves!|
|Barilla sauces are 100% FRESH without any preservatives!|
Here are some ‘Pasta 101’ tips from Chef Luca:
1. Most people don’t use a large enough pot or enough water when cooking their pasta. To allow plenty of room for the pasta to cook, use around 1L of water for every 100g of pasta.The water must be brought to a boil (over high heat) before you add a generous amount to salt to it (about 1 fistful to a 2L pot). After adding salt, bring the water to a boil again before throwing the pasta in. It is important to add salt to the cooking water because the pasta itself is tasteless (pasta is essentially just semolina flour and water).
2. The cooking time indicated on pasta boxes refers to the time needed to cook the pasta al-dente from the time you add the pasta into the boiling salt water, not from the time you start boiling the water. Once you add the pasta in, you have to stir the pasta (with a fork or spatula) as it cooks so that it does not clump together.
3. Retain some of the cooking water and add few tablespoons to the pasta sauce to allow the starch in the cooking water bind the pasta to the sauce.
4. If you want your pasta to be more flavorful, toss the pasta with the sauce in a large frying pan (over medium heat) instead of merely pouring the sauce over boiled pasta.
5. Some people tend to cook the pasta first and ‘keep it aside’ while the sauce cooks (oops, I do that too). That’s a big “no-no”. If you want to enjoy pasta at its best, you need to eat it straight away and you need to eat it hot. If you are pressed for time, make your sauce ahead and re-heat it while the pasta cooks (not the other way around).
Perhaps what delights me the most was to see for myself through the hands-on cooking session how Barilla can help us busy Mums come up with healthy and delicious family meal, without having to spend hours in the kitchen. With Barilla, we don’t have to compromise on taste to fix a quick meal that will make the whole family happy. Even on days when we are hard-pressed for time or feeling under the weather, we can use one of Barilla’s pasta sauces as a base, jazz it up with some favourite ingredients to become a simple, wholesome meal. We put 2 recipes to the test in the cooking studio and they taste so unbelievably good. I’m sold.
Here are two MUST-TRY pasta recipes for all home chefs:
1. Chilli Seafood Farfalle (inspired by the famous Singapore Chilli Crab!)
Ingredients (serves 4):
400g Barilla Farfalle
12 Medium Prawns*, deshelled and deveined
5 cloves Garlic, chopped finely
2 to 4 Chilli Padi, sliced finely (optional)
1 Jar of Barilla Arrabbiata sauce
4tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1 tbsp Lime Juice (optional)
Handful of chopped Chinese Parsley (to garnish)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to oil. When it’s boiling, add salt. Drop the Barilla Farfelle into the water and stir. Cook for 10mins or till the desired doneness.
2. In the meantime, fry the garlic and chilli padi in the oil.
3. Add the Barilla Arrabbiata sauce and bring to simmer. Add the prawns and cook for 2 mins.
4. Add sugar to the sauce, add the lime juice and stir in the beaten egg. Season to taste.
5. Drain the pasta and toss it together with the sauce. Sprinkle with Chinese parsley leaves and serve hot.
*You can substitute prawns with scallops, mussels or other seafood. Do note that the Arrabbiata sauce is slightly spicy.
2. Spaghetti Bolognese
Ingredients (serves 4):
400g Barilla Tagliatelle (or linguine/fettuccine/tagliatelle)
1 Jar of Barilla Bolognese pasta sauce
½ Red Onion, chopped finely
½ Carrot, chopped finely
½ Celery, chopped finely
350g Beef Mince* (this can also be a mixture of pork and beef mince too)
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
4tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. In a large casserole, cook onion, carrot and celery in a little oil for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add beef and lightly brown it, making sure there are no lumps. Add salt and pepper. Add a little of the cooking water to the mixture and continue to brown for at least 10 minutes (the longer the beef browns, the richer its taste).
3. Add the Barilla Bolognese sauce and bring to a simmer for 2 to 3 mins.
4. Bring a big pot of water to the boil. When boiling, add salt. Drop the Barilla Spaghetti into the water and stir. Cook for 8mins or till the desired doneness.
5. Drain pasta 1min before the suggested time, toss the pasta into the frying pan and mix well. Remove pot from the heat, add cheese and serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil before serving.
*You can substitute beef mince with chicken breast/bacon and mushrooms if you wish.
We love the recipes (especially the 1st one) that I’ve cooked it twice in the past week. I hope you’ll get to try them. Thank you Barilla for the enlightening cooking class, I’ve learnt so much about pasta cooking than reading scores of cook books! For more tried and tested pasta recipes, please visit Barilla’s website or facebook page.
WIN A BARILLA HAMPER!
Simply cook your favourite pasta meal, snap a photo and post it on the Barilla SG Facebook Page for a chance to bring home a Barilla hamper! Happy cooking!
|Share your homecooked pasta meal and win a hamper! Easy as that.