This past Saturday at the Eastside Farmers Market I had the pleasure to meet Sarah Zapien, chef and creator of Tavola Pasta, a brand of artisan, simple and rustic fresh pasta handcrafted in Houston!
Her pasta shapes are VERY interesting. She features conchiglie, torchi, caserecce, and even garganelli, besides the classic pasta shapes as fettuccine, pappardelle and rigatoni. At her booth she even had fresh ravioli! :D I really much liked the idea of the flavor combination. Sarah adds beets, spinach, saffron, butternut squash, bell peppers, cocoa, and much more (even spicy chili peppers coming from Calabria)!
The flour, as well as the herbs and vegetables that she uses are fresh, local and organic. And this is what I like most!!
She and her husband suggested to try the butternut squash and red bell pepper Caserecce, which sounded just right with a cream of peas and fresh goat ricotta.
- I am OBVIOUSLY picky. Overall when I buy pasta, I prefer DeCecco and Garofalo. And now that even Del Verde is strongly present, I am overly happy. What happens with Barilla, sometimes, is that pasta pieces stick together. So instead of having a nice plate of linguine al pesto, you have three or four linguine sticking together. Barilla is truly #1 in Italy but they messed up something with their US recipe.
- I am a lover of texture and artisanal pasta. In Italy we don’t only have the big brands. We have a myriad of little “pastifici” (pasta labs) where artisans prepare pasta the old way. Supermarkets even have their own label to sell regional specialties. To produce something like garganelli or caserecce, you gotta be into pasta.
- Caserecce are one of my favorite shapes, together with Del Verde Pennette, and Paccheri.
- I have a declared strong intolerance to non-organic red peppers.
This all being said: SARAH ZAPIEN IS DOING A GREAT JOB.
- Pasta does not stick!! And I did not add any olive oil.
- The texture is perfect
- After 7,5 minutes is ready “al dente”
- I did not have any allergic reaction whatsoever
- ITALIAN APPROVED!
FARMERS MARKET SHOPPING
8 oz of Tavola Pasta butternut squash and red pepper Caserecce
3 oz of Fresh Goat Ricotta
2 handfuls of fresh (better!) or frozen peas
1 tbsp of onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1) Fill a pot 2/3 of the way with lightly salted water and bring it to boil.
2) Clean the peas and while you remove the sweet pearls from their pod, do taste their crunchiness. Your soul will rejoice. Once you’re ready, warm up the oil in a skillet (or a wok) and add the chopped onion. Add the peas and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
3) Water should be boiling. Add pasta and stir. Caserecce will be ready al dente in 7,5 minutes.
4) Remove the skillet from the heat, stir a little bit, and let it set. Add the ricotta. If needed, dilute with 2 tbsp of cooking water.
5) Drain pasta and pour it into the skillet, sauté a few seconds and serve!
THE ADVICE FROM THE BOWL
If you haven’t yet, go grocery shopping to the Eastside Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8am to 12pm. It’s the paradise of organic foods.
Once there, pay a visit to Sarah Zapien and try out one of her creations, she has something new almost every week. We’ll be soon cooking together hopefully! Stay tuned!
Tavola Pasta | Sarah Zapien
Eastside Farmers Market
3000 Richmond Ave Houston, TX 77098
Saturdays from 8am to 12pm