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according to my calculations….friends + AL DENTE PASTA = a ridiculously awesome party

May 21, 2008

The following article was written by Eden Litt. Monique gave Eden 5 bags of pasta and this was the result:

An Italian, a Portuguese, and an Iranian walk into a room…Sounds like the start of a really bad joke. It’s not, but it was the start of a beautiful fun-filled Al Dente pasta party evening hosted by moi.

The night started off frantically, as this was a spontaneous idea—What should I wear? Do we have enough plates? Where is everyone going to sit? How many people are actually coming?—The party was called for 7:45 pm. I began to cook at 7:30 pm (I couldn’t have been more thankful that Al Dente’s flavorful pasta only takes 3-4 minutes to cook!). By 8:15, all 12 of my guests had shown up for a tantalizing evening. Although it was not required, each guest brought a treat of their own to add to the dinner table: from Sam’s homemade garlic bread and hot buns to Azzurra’s Parmesan cheese imported from Italy to Marina’s delicious veggie dip and vegetables to Farzin’s irresistible upside-down apple pie…just to name a few of the items off of our delectable menu. The night wouldn’t have been complete without all of these additions; however, the spotlight was on our five Fettuccine flavors of Al Dente pasta: Lemon Chive, Wild Mushroom, Red Chili Pepper, Whole Wheat and Garlic Parsley. In just 10 minutes [and two stove tops], we had ALL five bags of pasta cooked. After an introduction to each distinctive pasta variety, sprinkled with my gratefulness to my friends and their contributions, we dug in…and dug in hard.

A taste of our dinner table talk:

“I like the Red Chili Pepper pasta. It has a nice kick.”—Bryan

“Thank heavens for Monique!” –Hugo

“I would totally buy this…it takes no time to cook, yet tastes super fancy. Will you be mad if I steal your idea and have my own pasta party with this stuff?”—Erika

“Wait, this is good for me? Impossible. This tastes way too good.” Marina commenting on the Whole Wheat pasta with added flax

“Whenever I went to the grocery store I always bought ‘pasta’, which consisted solely of macaroni noodles, but this has honestly changed the way I think about pasta, and what I would consider to buy the next time ‘pasta’ is on my grocery list.” –Farzin

“I strongly like the Lemon Chive and Chili flavors the best. Surprisingly I can actually taste a difference.” –Tammy

“I am so full, but I don’t want to stop eating.”—Me

“Please tell me there are going to be leftovers in the house.” –David

The compliments started rolling in before I even needed to ask. However, one of my guests remained silent. I was nervous to call her out and ask her opinion, but I just had to. After all her opinion was sacred…she was Italian. I crossed my fingers, wiped the sweat from my brow, perked open my ears and politely asked for her thoughts. “This tastes the same as a real Italian dish,” she expressed boldly.

And so there it was…the perfect pasta party—15 empty stomachs turned full, two mouth-watering homemade sauces, a showcase of delicious side dishes, the lovely ambience of good music, good laughs, good company, and good food…and lastly, but least forgetfully the tasting of the fastest-cooking, healthiest, and most gourmet pasta ever—Al Dente’s.

Surprisingly I learned a lot that evening, like the fact that I sometimes don’t add enough water when boiling noodles, or the fact that you can add shaved lemon peels to Alfredo sauce. However, the most valuable lesson learned that night was if you can’t afford an Italian cook to slave over the stove for your upcoming dinner party, purchase the next best thing—a bag of Al Dente Pasta!

Below you’ll find the recipes to our homemade sauces (Tomato and Alfredo). I tried to get Sam to post his recipe on how to make his hot buns, but he respectfully declined exposing his family’s secrets.

Recipes:

Eden and David’s Infamous Homemade Tomato Sauce
(Serves ~15 people)
Ingredients
1 14.5 oz can of Tomato Paste
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
3-5 cloves of minced garlic
A package of mushrooms
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1.5 packages of Feta Cheese
2 teaspoons Oregano

On low heat, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a small saucepan. Add mushrooms, and cook until they brown. In a larger saucepan, add the rest of the olive oil and garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes, and then add the tomato paste and can of diced tomatoes. Slowly mix in the mushrooms (and leftover olive oil), oregano, and Feta cheese. Stir. Let simmer for 20-25 minutes over low heat while stirring frequently.

Homemade Alfredo Sauce
(Serves ~15 people)
Ingredients
2 pints of heavy whipping cream
2 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 sticks of melted butter
Grated lemon peel (optional)

In a large and deep saucepan, heat up at low heat 2 pints of heavy whipping cream and melted butter. Slowly add in the cheese allowing it to melt. Stir often. The grated lemon peel is optional and can be added after the sauce is made—this was an added tip by our Italian guest.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Marina permalink
    May 21, 2008 3:10 am

    Yay for al dente- dinner was SOOOO Good!

  2. Jenny Hackel permalink
    May 21, 2008 5:17 pm

    I recommend making chicken tetrazini with the wild mushroom fettuchini. Use a full pound of mushrooms cooked in 3 T butter and white wine. To this add 3 Tbsp of flour which you stir and brown over moderate heat. Then wisk in 2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then turn it down and add 1 cup half and half, 1 cup leftover cooked chicken, 1/2 cup toasted almond slivers and pour all of this over the cooked mushroom pasta in a casserole dish. Top it with grated parmesan, and put it in the oven to melt and lightly brown the cheese. Serve with a sald of baby field greens tossed with a vinagrette dressing, a cold chardonnay, and more fresh grated parmesan. Garlic bread is a great side too! It was a wonderful mother’s day dinner because I had my daughters cook this recipe!

  3. Andrew permalink
    May 21, 2008 5:18 pm

    the pasta was fantastic! a great variety of flavors to choose from.

  4. Azzurra permalink
    May 22, 2008 11:40 am

    The dinner was a real italian international dinner!!! 😉

  5. Pam Hrusovsky Strollo permalink
    July 5, 2008 3:03 pm

    “More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing nothing, than by believing too much.” George Borrow

    Mmmmm….I want to come to YOUR parties! Missing you and thinking of a reunion in VT. When will you come east again?

    I love the Lemon Chive al dente pasta just the way my mom made her egg noodles on Friday night growing up in OH. She cooked chopped onions until soft and edgy brown in “Olio” (I never tasted butter until I was about 11 and then I thought the delicious flavor I tasted on the toast served at after a sleepover at a friend’s house had to do with he way I spread it on the toast…unfortunately not being able to replicate this transformation of taste at home, and curious minds want to know, my disappointment magnified intensely when the true story emerged and an emphatic and simply “NO! was the answer to begging my dad to get the real thing.) So the recipe, sautéed onions in butter (hurray I’m in charge now!) lemon chive pasta, and a carton of large curd cottage cheese. My mom was sweet enough to make it with and without the onions so all 8 of her kids would eat it (she cooked like that with chili–no beans and beans, liver and onions or hot dogs, Mmmmm….I want to come to YOUR parties! Missing you and thinking of a reunion in VT. When will you come east again?

    I love the Lemon Chive al dente pasta, reciped just the way my mom made her wide egg noodles on Friday night growing up in OH. She cooked chopped onions until soft and edgy brown in “olio”. I never tasted butter until I was about 11 and then I thought the delicious flavor tasted on toast served at a friend’s sleepover, had to do with the way I spread it on the toast…unfortunately, not being able to replicate this transformation of taste at home, and curious minds want to know, my disappointment magnified intensely when the true story emerged and an emphatic and simply “NO! was the answer to begging my dad to get the real thing.
    So the recipe: sautéed onions in butter (hurray I’m in charge now!) lemon chive pasta, and a carton of large curd cottage cheese. Now instead of the fish sticks my parents served, I choose a cod or haddock, top it with olive oil, a can of diced tomatoes with basil, and seasoned bread crumbs, bake it. My mom was sweet enough to make our noodles with and without the onions so all 8 of her kids would eat it (she cooked like that with chili—a pot with no beans and a pot with beans, eat liver and onions or have a hot dogs, and “If you just can’t eat my delicious cooking tonight, period…..go get a bowl of Cheerios” –and a “God-Damn-It Helen” from my Dad as she shrugged her shoulders at him…just eat SOMETHING, and “No you don’t have to clear your plate, how in the heck will you ever learn to diet when you need to in your future if you are always taught you have to clear your plate when you’re not hungry!”…Some of this she never said, but the lessons emerge don’t they? Being raised with a “Just do your Thang” attitude has made all 8 of us experimental “Food Shmoozes” and proud of it! And Monique’s pasta wins for so many of my recipes.

    Love, and Peace,
    Pam Hrusovky Strolllo

  6. Monique permalink*
    July 5, 2008 9:13 pm

    Pam, you failed to tell the world that we grew up together in Warren, Ohio. Stories about food and family are very important to share, so thanks for this comment to the aldentecanoodler. Let this be a shout out to all of my other high school friends. Come on Panthers, I’m waiting to hear from you. What is your favorite pasta recipe?
    Monique

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