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A Brief History of Pasta

At Pasta Evangelists, we invite you to taste a variety of beautiful pasta dishes from across Italy’s 20 regions.

Malloreddus alla Campidanese

Take a trip through Sardinia's food heritage with this local staple. This specialty is a rich, indulgent dish featuring salsiccia (sausage), saffron, tomato and red wine, normally reserved for the most special of occasions. We have paired the sauce, known as campidanese, with malloreddus pasta, a Sardinian pasta shape similar to the traditional shape of gnocchi. (Indeed, it is often called 'gnocche di Sarde').
This dish is traditionally served with cream of pecorino, which is added at the very last moment, enriching the dish and adding depth to the sauce.

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Handmade Paccheri with Slow-Cooked Lamb Ragù

Paccheri are a large, tubular-shaped pasta originating from Campania and Calabria. Paccheri literally translates to ‘slaps’, which is derived from the sound they make when eaten (or more likely devoured). Paccheri were invented by Sicilian sfogline (pasta artisans) to smuggle Italian garlic into Prussia during the Middle Ages. Prussian garlic was small & weak compared to the large, pungent, Italian cloves, so Italian farmers hid 4-5 cloves in each piece of paccheri and smuggled it across the border.

This simple lamb ragù is a reflection of the historical poverty of the Basilicata, a region of the Italian south. It is often said the region’s rocky, rugged landscape is ideal for raising sheep, but not a great deal else. And whilst we find this characterisation of Basilicata to lack generosity - indeed, the New York Times described the region as 'Italy's best-kept secret' - we do agree that Basiilicata lamb is some of the finest farmed around the world.

Ultimately, though, the secret to our spectacular lamb ragù is time - and lots of it. Over a period of ten hours, the lamb is slowly braised with aromatics (rosemary, thyme & bay leaves, to name a few) until it tenderises and yields its rich, meaty flavours.

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Handmade Paccheri with Slow-Cooked Lamb Ragù

Paccheri are a large, tubular-shaped pasta originating from Campania and Calabria. Paccheri literally translates to ‘slaps’, which is derived from the sound they make when eaten (or more likely devoured). Paccheri were invented by Sicilian sfogline (pasta artisans) to smuggle Italian garlic into Prussia during the Middle Ages. Prussian garlic was small & weak compared to the large, pungent, Italian cloves, so Italian farmers hid 4-5 cloves in each piece of paccheri and smuggled it across the border.

This simple lamb ragù is a reflection of the historical poverty of the Basilicata, a region of the Italian south. It is often said the region’s rocky, rugged landscape is ideal for raising sheep, but not a great deal else. And whilst we find this characterisation of Basilicata to lack generosity - indeed, the New York Times described the region as 'Italy's best-kept secret' - we do agree that Basiilicata lamb is some of the finest farmed around the world.

Ultimately, though, the secret to our spectacular lamb ragù is time - and lots of it. Over a period of ten hours, the lamb is slowly braised with aromatics (rosemary, thyme & bay leaves, to name a few) until it tenderises and yields its rich, meaty flavours.

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Lobster Tortelloni with Datterini Tomato Sauce & Samphire

Although it may be a staple sight in coastal Italian restaurants, lobster nevertheless sits at the very top of the table in terms of rich, indulgent tastes. We treat our lobster meat with due respect, hand-filling our tortelloni (literally 'big pies' or 'cakes') for a generous, fresh taste.

The meaty lobster is set off by a traditional Sicilian tomato sauce, matching the saltiness of the seaside with sweet, juicy datterini. These tomatoes are chosen for their rich taste and inviting aroma. Small and elongated like their datteri (dates) namesake, they are fleshy, yet sweet and juicy. This dish offers a true taste of the Sicilian coastline, with a small handful of samphire (known poetically as asparagi di mare or 'asparagus of the sea') to complete this beautiful dish.

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Gnocchi Tricolore with Pork Ragù

This slow-braised pork ragù is called stracotto, literally 'over-cooked', in Italy. It's a traditional Roman sauce, with the meat braised slowly in Chianti wine over a period of 3-4 hours until it becomes so tender it can be pulled apart with just a fork, which frankly sounds just right to us.

We also add cavolo nero (also known as "Tuscan kale") whose fleshy, dark green leaves provide excellent texture. Served with colourful gnocchi tricolore (literally 3-colours, white, green and orange) which contain a hint of additional flavour from spinaci and a hint of pumpkin (zucca), flavouring the green and orange dumplings respectively.

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Gnocchi Tricolore with Pork Ragù

This slow-braised pork ragù is called stracotto, literally 'over-cooked', in Italy. It's a traditional Roman sauce, with the meat braised slowly in Chianti wine over a period of 3-4 hours until it becomes so tender it can be pulled apart with just a fork, which frankly sounds just right to us.

We also add cavolo nero (also known as "Tuscan kale") whose fleshy, dark green leaves provide excellent texture. Served with colourful gnocchi tricolore (literally 3-colours, white, green and orange) which contain a hint of additional flavour from spinaci and a hint of pumpkin (zucca), flavouring the green and orange dumplings respectively.

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Tonnarelli with a Walnut Sauce (Salsa di Noci) (v.)

This is a classic dish from Genova that is very rarely available in other parts of Italy, let alone outside of lo stivale (meaning 'the boot', i.e. Italy). Some people from outside of "Zena" (the name for Genova in the Genovese dialect) call this sauce pesto di noci, which, for a born and bred Genovese, is wrong.

It is, more properly, salsa di noci (or sarsa de noxi in local Genovese) and is made with walnuts, oregano, garlic and milk. The sauce is paired with hand-crafted fresh tonnarelli... belin! (You might need to google this - it's another local Genovese term...)

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Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto & Pistachio Crumb

Orecchiette, literally ‘little ears’, are a perfect example of the difference that fresh production can make to pasta. Using only flour and water, the little shell shapes have a firm bite, but a soft interior, avoiding the sogginess often found in reboiled dry pasta. Another delight is of course the variety of shapes inherent in hand-crafting.

Orecchiette are known and loved in their rugged home region of Apulia for their ability to scoop up smaller elements of the sauce, such as this inventive fresh pesto with its star ingredient: Sicilian pistachios. The sturdy pasta holds this assertive sauce beautifully, so neither pasta nor our twist on pesto becomes a support act for the other. We top with a traditional southern Italian cheese, pecorino, whose crumbly, nutty taste imparts added depth to the dish.

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Orecchiette with Pistachio Pesto & Pistachio Crumb

Orecchiette, literally ‘little ears’, are a perfect example of the difference that fresh production can make to pasta. Using only flour and water, the little shell shapes have a firm bite, but a soft interior, avoiding the sogginess often found in reboiled dry pasta. Another delight is of course the variety of shapes inherent in hand-crafting.

Orecchiette are known and loved in their rugged home region of Apulia for their ability to scoop up smaller elements of the sauce, such as this inventive fresh pesto with its star ingredient: Sicilian pistachios. The sturdy pasta holds this assertive sauce beautifully, so neither pasta nor our twist on pesto becomes a support act for the other. We top with a traditional southern Italian cheese, pecorino, whose crumbly, nutty taste imparts added depth to the dish.

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Prawn and Asparagus Caramelle with a Crustacean Bisque

Prawns and seafood have been a part of Italian culture since Ancient Rome. Aquaculture, or seafood farming, was very sophisticated back then, even by today’s standards. Aquaculture is still very prevalent in modern day Italy, with Sicily leading the country in seafood production. Prawns are native to the Mediterranean Sea, making them accessible for the fishermen of Sicilia.

Our caramelle, on the other hand, literally translating to 'sweetie', are more a novelty pasta shape, rather than one with ancient origins. Caramelle are small, filled pasta with twisted ends that resemble sweets. They are typically served on special occasions, such as Christmas and other holidays, in places like Parma and Piacenza. Here at Pasta Evangelists, we believe every moment of eating should entail the same joy as holidays do, and so we have no qualms about stuffing our handmade caramelle with the finest prawns and Italian asparagus, serving with a beautiful crustacean bisque bursting with deep oceanic flavour.

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Spaghetti with Octopus alla Luciana

Octopus alla Luciana is a typical Neapolitan recipe born in the village of Santa Lucia in the vicinity of Napoli. When fishermen return home they cook their octopus, cut into pieces, in their own liquid. The Luciana octopus is so named because of the ancient fishing district of Santa Lucia, in Napoli.

On the sea in front of Santa Lucia, we caught our polpi (octopi) by dipping terracotta amphorae in the water among the rocks overnight. We then simmered them with tomatoes and Gaeta olives in a crock pot covered and wrapped in a wet cloth. The Luciana octopus is served with spaghetti and the sauce of the octopus as a first course. Over time tomatoes, garlic, parsley and hot chilli pepper were added to create a thick and tasty sauce used to dress pasta.

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Spaghetti with Octopus alla Luciana

Octopus alla Luciana is a typical Neapolitan recipe born in the village of Santa Lucia in the vicinity of Napoli. When fishermen return home they cook their octopus, cut into pieces, in their own liquid. The Luciana octopus is so named because of the ancient fishing district of Santa Lucia, in Napoli.

On the sea in front of Santa Lucia, we caught our polpi (octopi) by dipping terracotta amphorae in the water among the rocks overnight. We then simmered them with tomatoes and Gaeta olives in a crock pot covered and wrapped in a wet cloth. The Luciana octopus is served with spaghetti and the sauce of the octopus as a first course. Over time tomatoes, garlic, parsley and hot chilli pepper were added to create a thick and tasty sauce used to dress pasta.

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Truffle & Pecorino Girasoli with Truffle Butter (v.)

Girasoli literally translates to “sunflowers”, in reference to the shape of this beautiful pasta. Girasoli pasta get their shape from special molds that the chef uses to delicately mold the dough with. It is similar to a cookie cutter, allowing the pastaio making them to create special designs.

Our girasoli are filled with truffles & Pecorino, one of Italy’s best-loved cheeses. The sharpness of the pecorino balances the depth and decadence of our beautiful truffles, foraged in the Sibillini mountains of Umbria. Ancestors of the truffle have been used in Italian cooking since ancient times, with the first mention of them being in 2nd century, AD. Ancient Romans used them to enhance flavour, instead of using them as a standout ingredient as we do today. Our truffle & Pecorino girasoli are complemented with a simple but delicious truffle butter.

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Wild Boar Tortelloni with Burro e Rosemarino & Crushed Grissini

It is likely that wild boar have been around since the Early Pleistocene time, roughly 5,000 years ago, and are native to Eurasia, among other regions. Eating wild boar dates back to Ancient Roman times, where hunting and preparing this animal became a rite of passage for young males. Wild boar are quite adaptable and are well populated, meaning that they are classified as the least concern for extinction. Not only is wild boar a sustainable option, it is also leaner and healthier than pork.

We top our wild boar tortelloni with burro e salvia (butter and sage) and toasted almonds, which enhance the gamey flavour of the boar. Almonds are grown in the warmer region of Sicily, where they symbolise good fortune.

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Wild Boar Tortelloni with Burro e Rosemarino & Crushed Grissini

It is likely that wild boar have been around since the Early Pleistocene time, roughly 5,000 years ago, and are native to Eurasia, among other regions. Eating wild boar dates back to Ancient Roman times, where hunting and preparing this animal became a rite of passage for young males. Wild boar are quite adaptable and are well populated, meaning that they are classified as the least concern for extinction. Not only is wild boar a sustainable option, it is also leaner and healthier than pork.

We top our wild boar tortelloni with burro e salvia (butter and sage) and toasted almonds, which enhance the gamey flavour of the boar. Almonds are grown in the warmer region of Sicily, where they symbolise good fortune.

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Tagliatelle with Wild Garlic Pesto & Roasted Leeks (ve.)

Tagliatelle hail from the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions of Italy, where they have been loved for generations. Legend states that tagliatelle were invented by the chef of Lucrezia upon the night of her wedding to Annibale II Bentivoglio in 1487. Fast forwarding several centuries, we doubt Lucrezia would recognise this beautiful plant-based take on tagliatelle.

This flavoursome, homemade pesto relies on the heady aromas of aglio trigono, a species of wild garlic that grows freely in the woodlands of Capraia, an island west of the Tuscany’s idyllic coastline. We combine our aglio trigono with spinaci, extra virgin olive oil from Liguria and nutty semi di zucca (pumpkin seeds) from zucca cultivated in Veneto. We finish this dish with roasted leeks (porri in Italian), a vegetable frequently extolled in the writings of the Roman naturalist Pliny.

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Salmon Cuoricini with Dill Butter & Taralli Breadcrumbs

Our 'heart ravioli', or, perhaps more romantically cuoricini, literally translates to 'little hearts', which seems a fitting sobriquet for these irresistibly cute pasta shapes. Although a non-traditional shape, we believe that there can always be more love in the world, particularly where great food is concerned.

Our cuoricini (the pasta, not our actual hearts) are filled with a smoked salmon mousse that is light and sharp at the same time... just like vero amore. We then top our cuoricini with burro (butter) and dill, which bring out the flavour in the smoked salmon. We have added crumbs of a classic Italian snack, taralli, which resemble pretzels, for added crunch.

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Salmon Cuoricini with Dill Butter & Taralli Breadcrumbs

Our 'heart ravioli', or, perhaps more romantically cuoricini, literally translates to 'little hearts', which seems a fitting sobriquet for these irresistibly cute pasta shapes. Although a non-traditional shape, we believe that there can always be more love in the world, particularly where great food is concerned.

Our cuoricini (the pasta, not our actual hearts) are filled with a smoked salmon mousse that is light and sharp at the same time... just like vero amore. We then top our cuoricini with burro (butter) and dill, which bring out the flavour in the smoked salmon. We have added crumbs of a classic Italian snack, taralli, which resemble pretzels, for added crunch.

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Lasagne di Zucchine with Homemade Pesto (v.)

Lasagne has been enjoyed by Italians for centuries. The first record of lasagne dates back to Ancient Rome, but that primitive version is quite different from the kind we enjoy today. The first official recipe was recorded during the Middle Ages in Naples in Liber de Coquina (pictured below), one of the oldest cookbooks to date. That recipe for lasagne describes a flattened dough layered with cheese and spices and eaten using a pointed stick.

Our modern version of lasagne features courgette and pesto, and you can eat it with the utensil of your choosing, but bonus points if you try it with a stick. Our pesto is made fresh with loads of basil and Italian garlic and is layered perfectly between our hand-rolled lasagne sheets.

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Emerald Gnocchi with Sage Butter & Parmesan

The word gnocchi comes from the Italian nocchio, meaning 'knot in wood', and the same root for where Carlo Collodi got the name for his character Pinocchio, a puppet made from wood. Gnocchi have been a staple in Italy since Ancient Roman times, but have changed over time. Our potato gnocchi are made by hand using a traditional wooden roller, with the dough formed into little pieces & rolled on a special board to give them their unique shape.

This week’s gnocchi are infused with fresh spinaci, grown in abundance in the fields of Tuscany and imparting a vivid green hue. We serve our little green gnocchi with delicate sage butter and Parmesan cheese, evoking the best of al fresco dining in Italy's spring sun....

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Emerald Gnocchi with Sage Butter & Parmesan

The word gnocchi comes from the Italian nocchio, meaning 'knot in wood', and the same root for where Carlo Collodi got the name for his character Pinocchio, a puppet made from wood. Gnocchi have been a staple in Italy since Ancient Roman times, but have changed over time. Our potato gnocchi are made by hand using a traditional wooden roller, with the dough formed into little pieces & rolled on a special board to give them their unique shape.

This week’s gnocchi are infused with fresh spinaci, grown in abundance in the fields of Tuscany and imparting a vivid green hue. We serve our little green gnocchi with delicate sage butter and Parmesan cheese, evoking the best of al fresco dining in Italy's spring sun....

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Pappardelle with Pork Ragù, Cavolo Nero & Parmesan

Pappardelle originates in Tuscany, a region known for rich, hearty sauces. Pappardelle is one of the thickest flat pastas, making it the perfect size to sop up meat sauces. The word pappardelle comes from the verb pappare, meaning to “gobble up”, which is exactly what this pasta, and people who eat it, do.

In this traditional Tuscan ragù dish, we use the highest quality pork sourced from renowned butcher Ginger Pig. We slow-braise the pork with red wine, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and other aromatic flavours to ensure the meat is at its most tender.

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