REVIEW: PASTA EVANGELISTS’ FRESH PASTA

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.

Sophia Loren

I adore pasta, in all forms, from fat ribbons of tagliatelle to plump raviolo. I have made pasta from scratch, and loved it, yet my pasta machine is buried deep in the back of the cupboard, like a crammed commuter on the Northern Line.

Why don’t I make pasta from scratch anymore?

It takes time.

It should be a labour of love, not a chore, and when I cook out of necessity rather than pure pleasure, food always tastes different, as if it lacks soul.

Now, if only there was a way to enjoy fresh pasta that was made with bucketloads of TLC, without all that laborious stretching, cutting and re-stretching.

Enter Pasta Evangelists that delivers fresh artisanal pasta (including sauces and garnishes) to homes across the UK.

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In around five minutes (so says the website blurb) you can prepare gourmet pasta dishes to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

I’m an inquisitive soul, and I couldn’t help but be enamoured by the idea of fresh pasta being delivered to your door.

How would that even work?

Freshly prepared ingredients are shipped across the country in chilled ice packs – that’s how the ingredients stay fresh as a daisy.

Mine arrived when I wasn’t at home – I was running late from a meeting, and the pasta pack had been sitting on my porch for circa 1 hour. Which was perfectly fine, as the ice-packs in recyclable packaging protected my precious cargo.

pasta-in-box

After hastily throwing my handbag on the floor (when food enters the equation, everything else just gets chucked), I scooped up the pasta bag and tore open the plastic like a starved bear on a mission.

It is recommended that once you receive your dishes, you can keep them in the fridge for up to three days. This caused me to chuckle – fresh pasta could never survive 24 hours in my house, let alone three days.

What I think is a nifty touch, is the convenience of having the option of freezing on the day of delivery.

You don’t have to faff with freezer bags or clingfilm which is constant battle for me, as I seem to be in the possession of the world’s flimsiest clingfilm (more on that in a standalone post).

You can freeze the Pasta Evangelists food for up to 1 month, and then cook directly from frozen. Yep, there’s none of this defrosting malarkey, which gets brownie points for the Pasta Evangelists.

They have the customer in the forefront of their mind, and I can almost imagine them asking “How can we make our lovely customers’ lives easier?”

So, who’s behind the business?

The founder is Alessandro from Genova Liguria. Disappointed by the quality of fresh pasta in the UK, he made it his mission to bring fresh, artisanal pasta of Italian quality to homes across the UK.

Now, Pasta Evangelists is headed up by a powerhouse of good food appreciators (I’ve stopped using the term ‘foodie’, it’s just so goddamn cliché).

Three food heavyweights, also official Pasta Evangelists and co-founders are Giles Coren, Prue Leith and William Sitwell. This triumvirate heads up this lean, mean, pasta-making machine, and is supported by a small, London-based team that hails from all over the world, but are united by their enthusiasm for pasta.

I had three dishes in my pasta care-package; artisan penne with tomato and vodka sauce and Parmesan, gourmet mac and cheese with truffle and San Fran sourdough crumb, and a dessert of chocolate filled gnocchi with toasted pecans.

I loved the recipe cards, which had a brief introduction on the dish and its origins. I love knowing more about the food that I am eating – for me, it is so much more than just food on a plate.

When people pop around for dinner, I always try to let them know what exactly they’re eating – I feel it’s a nice touch to know.

All dishes were quick to cook, and the instructions fairly easy to follow. There was one step in the recipe that instructed leaving the white rice flour in the pouch.

I tipped the pasta into the boiling water, rice flour too, and the pasta turned out fine. It may be an idea to place the raw penne in a sieve, give it a good shake to dispel any rice flour, then tip that into boiling water.

Artisan penne tomato sauce Parmesan

Artisan penne with tomato and vodka sauce and Parmesan

My penne was delicious. Al dente, fresh pasta is one of the best dishes in the entire universe. The tomato-vodka base was a good pasta sauce, the whisper of barely-there vodka adding an edge to the pasta. The sauce was decent, it was the fresh, golden pasta that stood out for me. I could easily have eaten this pasta with just garlic butter and a few fried sage leaves, and still be as happy as Larry (I don’t know who Larry is, but I always imagine him to be as convivial as that laughing man in Blackpool). In fact, I’m going to see if I can order Pasta Evangelists’ penne in bulk and freeze it off.

mac-n-cheese

Gourmet mac & cheese with truffle and San Fran sourdough crumb

This mac & cheese was the easiest dish to cook. I simply chucked it in the oven and served. Simple. And this was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever tasted. I loved the discernible cylindrical shapes that accommodated the gooey cheese sauce, made with several varieties of Italian cheese.

mac-n-cheese

The heavy hit of truffle was fragrant and divine, the inventive sourdough crumb topping adding a yeasty tang to the dish. It was wondrous in all its truffley glory. So much so, that I had to give it a standing ovation at my dinner table.

chocolate-gnocchi

Dessert of chocolate filled gnocchi with toasted pecans

Toasted gnocchi were good and not too sweet, whilst toasted pecans added a nutty profile to the deep dark chocolate hit. I prefer sweeter desserts, and although the boyfriend loved this dish, I didn’t fight him for dessert (not a slight, just a personal preference).

Pasta Evangelists take great care with their pasta. Using premium ingredients including doppio zero flour from Italy, fresh egg, water and salt – no additives in sight – their fresh pasta makes you feel you’re eating dishes not out of place in a high-end restaurant.

Check out their Pasta Museum, a food-porn worthy gallery guaranteed to have you salivating in seconds. They also cater for vegetarians, vegans and the gluten-free crowd.

With dishes such as summer pea and shallot tortellini with Parmesan, chive butter and grissini, and tuna and caper mezzelune with parsley butter and black olive grissini crumb, it is little wonder that Pasta Evangelists are bolstering their loyal fan base at a rate of knots.

I am so pleased that Pasta Evangelists exists, and that fresh pasta can be delivered to your door. What an age to be alive in. Team Pasta Evangelists, you’ll hear from me very soon.

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