Well, I received my package from Baltz Public Relations in NYC containing some samples of Giovanni Rana products. Lisa Mendeson, of Baltz, asked me to not only preview the products sent to me and forward them my honest opinion, but also to come up with some light and refreshing recipes using these items if I desired..... I so desired!
I have just spent almost a week in the kitchen, almost nonstop, tasting, picking apart and tasting all the products sent to me by Baltz and Rana and to tell you the truth, there is just no pasta out there that even comes close. Let's begin with the texture alone.
I am very conscious and knowledgeable of Italian fare(next to Yankee cuisine and possibly French, I think my expertise lies in Italian food preparation)and I know pasta. This, my friends, is pasta at its best. Without even tasting it, I could tell I was in for a treat. And then when I started reading the packaging, I noticed it took only 1 minute to cook. Well there was the devil in the writing, so I thought.
There was just no way pasta that has only a one minute cooking time can be top notch, let alone palatable. Boy was I wrong. Before I began my first recipe using this "Straw and Hay" fettuccine, which is what Paglia E Fieno literally translates to, I cooked it according to package directions and left it in the strainer without rinsing. After about 2 minutes, I reached for a strand of the spinach flavored strand and one of the plain variety. Both were already sticky, dry and ready to hitch a ride on any sauce it came into contact with. I plopped them in my mouth and low and behold, perfection!
Sounds like I am being paid by someone doesn't it? Absolutely not! If there was one detail with regards to this pasta that I didn't care for, here it is.........wait for it.....wait for it.....wait for it.....Nope. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
So without rambling on and on about all the pasta and sauces I welcomed from Baltz Publicity, let me simply give you two recipes I came up with that I think truly accentuate this fine fettuccine. Sure I could have taken a sauce or two that also came in my "gift bag" and simply thrown them together, but I am going to not only savor each and every item but I would much rather create something original using only one item per recipe. So without further ado, here you go and mangiare.
Yankee Fettuccine Salmone
My inspiration for this dish came from summertime fare, healthy thinking and the Italian favorite which is Carbonara. I wanted the flavor of Carbonara, with the Yankee twist and the smell and taste of the rocky shoreline that us here in New England enjoy, as do my beloved Italian friends and chefs. I think you will enjoy not only the simple substitutions that take away some of the guilty pleasure of cream(found in Carbonara)but the subtle flavor of spinach that is perfect with the sweet, briny taste of mussels. I would have added fresh peas to the mix, but found it unnecessary with Rana's Paglia E Fieno.
1(8.8-ounce)package of Rana Fettuccine(Paglia E Fieno)
1 cup reduced-fat or skim milk
3 egg whites, slightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1/4 cup diced, roasted red bell pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
Steam or boil the mussels in 1-inch of water until they just open, about 2 minutes covered. Drain, cool and remove the meat from the shell: set aside. In a large pot, cook the fettuccine according to package directions. Leave in colander while preparing remainder of recipe.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the milk, egg whites, cheese and chives together well: set aside as well. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering over medium-high heat, about 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and red bell peppers and cook over medium-high heat about 10 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the mussels and cook for 2 minutes, tossing and stirring. Add the egg mixture and bring to scalding while constantly stirring. Add the fettuccine and toss until combined, tasting for salt and pepper. Remove to serving plate and serve immediately.
*You can just as easily substitute the fresh mussels for canned. Simply use 2(5-ounce)cans cooked mussels, drained well.