iMunch| Cook it Up the Al Dente Way!

November 01, 2014

Can anybody guess what was the holiday celebrated last October 25? Anybody?

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The answer is... yep! It's INTERNATIONAL PASTA DAY that day. And what's more, October is also National Pasta Month! Who here loves pasta? (raises hand and shouts*Oh I DO! I DO!!) hehe...

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Pasta dishes, be it with tomato based sauce, cream based sauce, a combination of the two, or oil based sauce is actually my favorite food of all time cause it's really easy to cook and easier to serve, alongside Cheesecakes, Pizza and Burgers. I actually got to know more about my favorite food through Dona Elena Al Dente Pasta's celebration of said holiday, celebrated in The BlackBoard at Podium.

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There was a myriad of different pasta lovers who are also in attendance. For the first part, there was the opening remarks by Ms. MJ Cordova, then we were introduced to Dona Elena Al Dente pasta by Ms. Karen Saguiped, Ms. Rachelle Chang  and Nutritionist, Professor Luchie Callanta ...



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There are a lot of things that I have learned through out their talk, like :


  • The Artisan way of making pasta is slow drying and not subjected to high heat – this method tends to preserve the food nutrients more than food cooked in high heat. Which is how Dona Elena Al Dente Pasta is made.

  • Under Italian law, dry pasta can only be made from durum wheat semolina which produces high quality pasta. Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheats. It is high in protein content, gives more fiber, less starch and is also a lot better for blood sugar; it does not cause that rapid spike like regular pasta does.

  • Dona Elena Al Dente Pasta uses Bronze Dies, which leaves a rough surface that creates ridges on the pasta. These ridges help sauces cling better to the pasta, thus making it more delicious; unlike other pasta which uses Teflon Dies, that create a more smooth surface and does the opposite for pasta sauces. Also, the textured mouth feel of bronze die-cut pasta is much appreciated by demanding gourmets.


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Then Mr. RJ Ledesma owned the stage as he shared with us his pasta experience, and alongside it, noting that creativity, plating and storyfication is important for entrepreneurs who are up for creating new pasta dishes that haven't been done before, like aside from the usual sauces, we can infuse pasta with a citrus or lychee based sauce.

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Afterwards, we were introduced by the owner of The BlackBoard, Chef Michel Cottabaren who demonstrated to us a couple of pasta dishes, and alongside, a few cooking tips as well like:

  • Al Dente means "Firm to the Bite" and to know if your pasta is cooked/ Al

  • Contrary to popular belief, you do not need oil for cooking pasta, and you also don't need to rinse it in water after cooking to prevent it from sticking.

  • Don't use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking, as heat damages the nutritional contents of EVOO, and well, it's much better used for the latter part as a finishing touch to your breads or pasta.


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I also got to have my own pasta experience that same day when I was picked to join their "Pasta Games" which is basically a cook off. There are 4 teams, a pair for each, and I got Paired with Ruby :D Mechanics was a draw lots of what pasta to use, and which sauce to pair it with, and we have 10 minutes to pull off an exciting dish from our said categories.

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Ruby and me got Fettuccine, paired with an oil based sauce. (DUN DUN DUN DUUUUNNNNN) I had a bit of a panic moment cause most recipes that I know by heart are those with a tomato based sauce, and well, basically, what we just did was wing it, alongside the newly acquired knowledge from the past talk and my memory of my mom and dad's favorite pasta, Aglio Olio, which by the way is the only oil based sauce that I know of. Hahaha!

Here are the contenders...
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our team's dish...

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We first cooked the shrimps in Dona Elena Pure Olive Oil to infuse the oil with the flavor of the shrimp, then took it out and used the whole lot of garlic and onions that was prepped, and sauteed it in. We then added in the cooked shrimp, then pasta, then a whole handful of basil, around half a cup of black olives, then anchovies, and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Personally, we weren't expecting to win, but then surprises come in many forms and shapes cause we actually were tied with another team who also won, which is the Fusilli with cream based sauce team. :D

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Remember when I said that surprises come in all shapes and forms? Well, another surprise was on it's way as I had actually won the selfie contest of Dona Elena Al Dente Pasta, which was happening all throughout the event.

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We were also served other pasta dishes(forgot to take photos of those :D), and to end this post, I'll be sharing with you guys a pasta recipe for you guys to try out :D Be sure to use the best Artisan quality pasta available, Dona Elena Al Dente Pasta!



 

Pasta Mediterraneo

Ingredients:

  • 500g Doña Elena AL DENTE Spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package instructions

  • 3 tbsp Doña Elena pure olive oil

  • 4 pcs garlic cloves, minced

  • 6 pcs Doña Elena anchovy fillets, mashed

  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

  • ½ cup Doña Elena sliced black olives

  • 3 tbsp Doña Elena capers

  • 2 cups Doña Elena diced canned tomatoes

  • ¼ cup  basil leaves, chiffonade

  • To taste: freshly ground black pepper

  • parmesan cheese, grated


Procedure:

  1. Heat the Doña Elena pure olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté the garlic until softened.

  2. Add the mashed anchovy fillets, dried chilli flakes, olives and capers and let it cook for a minute.

  3. Add the canned tomatoes and let the mix simmer until the sauce becomes chunky. Add the basil and simmer a few more minutes.

  4. Season with pepper.

  5. Toss the sauce with the spaghetti noodles.

  6. Garnish the pasta with some black olives and capers on top and sprinkle with generous amount of parmesan cheese. Serve hot.


 

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