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.
Eden and David’s Infamous Homemade Tomato Sauce
(Serves ~15 people)
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)
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.