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Great Home-Made Pasta, Made by Someone Else

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 28, 2009 3:20PM

Some of the organic pastas for sale from Pasta Puttana.

Home-made, fresh pasta is certainly the best kind. Unfortunately, we don’t have a pasta machine, or a ton of spare time, so we usually settle for dried. While shopping for produce, we ran into Pasta Puttana (translation: Pasta Whore) at the indoor version of the Green City Market, back in April. Owner Jessica Volpe was standing behind her entirely empty table and, when we went up to beg for scraps, she had nothing left. It was only 11 AM and the market had only been open for a couple of hours - we probably should have known better. Clearly, we aren’t the only people who love her products.

You may remember Pasta Puttana from a post a few weeks ago when Chuck chatted with Jessica at GCM. Her new company makes some of the best fresh, flavored pasta we’ve ever tasted. Unlike some of the “flavored” dried pastas that you may have bought in the store (which taste like regular pasta with food coloring added) her pasta is intensely flavorful. So much so, in fact, that it usually doesn’t require much of a sauce - some oil, a few herbs and some salt and you’re good to go. This convenience, plus the quality of her product and the variety of flavors, helps to justify the price - $10/package.

Each package has enough pasta to serve 2 people as a dinner or 4 as an appetizer, and the list of flavors makes us want to run to the stove right now: Fiery Red Chile Linguine, Seasonal Herb Tagliatelle, Whole Wheat Trenette, White Wine Tagliatelle, and Crimini Mushroom Tagliatelle. If you want a bag of the Fiery Red Chile, get to a market extra early - it tends to go first. Our favorite was the Crimini Mushroom, which tasted like a regular pasta cooked for hours with a mushroom sauce, except with a fraction of the effort. We tossed it with some thyme and olive oil for a dinner party, and it was GONE in 3 minutes flat.

Her pasta comes packed in a freezer-safe bag - you can either eat it immediately, refrigerate it or freeze it. Cooking and serving instructions are included. Usually, the pasta has to be boiled for about 2 minutes - much less than dried pasta, so make sure you read the instructions. It can be found at the Green City Market, or at stores selling local products, including the Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand, True Nature Foods and Green Grocery.