The Pasta Friday Cookbook, book review

Pasta is a food near and dear to my heart.  (I’m sure many people feel the same.)  During my last year of college, my dinner on most nights was a big plate of pasta and red sauce.   It’s cheap.  It’s pantry friendly.  It’s amazing that I didn’t get sick of it by the end of the year. 

I don’t eat like that anymore.  I don’t make pasta very often, not even once a month.  (It’s not like I’ve cut out simple carbs, as rice and noodles are in regular rotation in my kitchen.)  Pasta tends to be “emergency cooking” for me.  Something to make when I should make something but don’t have a ton of time.  So, it just isn’t part of my regular rotation of dishes.  But for a pasta dish that feels inspiring?  I can get behind that.

“The Pasta Friday Cookbook” by Allison Arevalo is collection of recipes from the weekly gathering of the same name that Arevalo created back in 2017.  The purpose of Pasta Friday is to share a simple meal of pasta and salad with a large group of friends and family once a week. Her cookbook is a reflection of her mission.  It has 52 pasta recipes and 16 salad recipes, divided up by season. It’s almost an instruction book for holding your own Pasta Friday, but while Arevalo feeds 30+ people, the published recipes serves 4 to 6 or 6 to 8.

I like how the book mixes traditional and non-traditional recipes.  Here are the recipes that I’m most interested in:

  • Pam’s Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Peaches
  • Farfalloni with Smoked Salmon and Creamy Corn Sauce
  • Trofie with Pesto Cream, Potatoes, and Green Beans
  • Cucumber Basil Salad with Anchovies and Croutons
  • Cacio e Pepe with Pici and Mushrooms
  • Mafaldine with Porcini and Eggs
  • Crispy Cauliflower with Kale and Rotini
  • Strozzapreti with Sunday Pork Neck Ragu
  • Papparedelle with Roasted Pork and Mushrooms
  • Lentils with Buffalo Mozzarella and Roasted Peppers
  • Gnocchetti with Chorizo and Fried Lemon
  • Asparagus and Cannellini Beans with Mint and Grana Padano

 

For this review, I went with Dad’s Famous Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.  Why? It has two of my favorite ingredients: roasted bell peppers and smoked paprika!  It also doesn’t hurt that this is a fairly easy recipe. The other ingredients are heavy cream, butter, roasted garlic, pepper, salt, and pasta.  You make the sauce. You boil the pasta. And then you finish the pasta in the sauce. Done.

Verdict?  I loved this.  I also love how Arevalo instructions you to add just enough cream to achieve a gold, orangey pink sauce.  It’s a perfect description, and the exact color I achieved.  The recipe instructs for a pound of cannolicchi pasta, but I went with penne. 

Every recipe in the book has pasta shape substitutions, and at least one of the substitutions will be one that is easy to find in any supermarket.  Every recipe also offers wine pairing suggestions, as well of what to serve the dish with.  In the case of the roasted red pepper sauce, the book says to serve with crispy/spicy prosciutto, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a medium-bodied and spicy California cabernet franc, or an unoaked and crispy French Chardonnay.  This information is especially useful if you decide to entertain guests and/or host your own Pasta Friday.

I think I’m going to want this sauce all the time. (But I’m also thinking about lightening up of the recipe to make it a little more waistline friendly.)

Is this book worth its salt?  Yes! I’m sold on the roasted red pepper sauce alone.  What can I say? I’m a simple girl. I’m not sure I’m about to holding Pasta Fridays at my house every week, but I can get behind the message of building a community face to face.  Spending more time with my favorite people can never be a bad thing, and I like cooking for them so perhaps I’ll make pasta and salad for them next time we’re all together.

Reference Links:

https://www.pastafriday.com/

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Andrews McMeel Publishing for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  

Pantry friendly pasta sauce, version 1.0

I wanted to make a pasta sauce that wasn’t a traditional pasta sauce.  Partly because I like being difficult, and partly because my right thumb has been swollen all day for reasons unknown.  So I was not inclined to do a lot of cutting or anything remotely similar.

So I came up with the recipe below.  I may fuss with it in the near future, but I was happy with it today.  It also happens to be vegan and nut free.

Pantry friendly pasta sauce, version 1.0

  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and unsalted
  • 1 garlic clove (I cheated and used 1/4 tsp Penzey’s minced garlic)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (Honestly, I used 1/2 of a lemon but that was too lemony)
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

 

Blitz everything in a high powered blender.  If you don’t have one, you could probably let everything soak for an hour in a standard blender before turning it on.

Makes about 2 cups.