Summer Pasta Menu

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Prototyping dinner. Taken with iPhone.

Pasta making parties were one of the first dinner parties I threw.  We would just buy a sack of flour (semolina was too fancy for us at the time),  have everyone bring fillings, and set-up an assembly line to do the kneading, rolling, shaping, and cooking. I found that it was a great way for people to meet new people since the laborious task of kneading gave a lot of time to talk to your neighbor. A Sunday making pasta always felt like a good change in pace from equations and books.

For this party, I wanted to return to the familiar format but feature the wonderful fresh, ingredients that California farmers’ markets offer. Renee and I visited the Allemany Farmer’s market and came up with this menu of three ravioli based on what was in season:

-Summer squash and rosemary ravioli with salsa fresca (raw tomatoes, a bit of garlic, basil, mixed but uncooked)

-Lemon, green beans, caramelized onions, and ricotta ravioli featuring homemade ricotta tossed with arugula and walnut pesto

-Corn, goat cheese, garlic, and jalapeño ravioli with sage butter sauce

-Themed drink: Sai’s Special Sangria (white and red versions)

We wanted to feature seasonal, local ingredients in the ravioli and chose simple sauces that would complement them. I have always been fascinated by the idea of salsa fresca, an Italian sauce that was uncooked. I had always associated hearty, heavier sauces with traditional Italian cooking. Salsa fresca is something that should only be made when tomatoes are at the peak of their seasons. If the tomatoes are amazing, you only need a little basil and garlic to complete the sauce.

The dessert menu ended up being about as long as the dinner menu:

-Homemade basil and lemon ice cream (and caramel ice cream by accident)

-Zucchini bread made from leftover squash and zucchini

-Plus giant Tiramisu brought by Angie!

We plan to do another iteration of this party at the end of summer, with a few new innovations (colored pasta? cannolis?). And for Winter, we’ll have another pasta party featuring hearty sauces and root vegetables.

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