FRESH PASTA + SAUCES
At Howie’s, we make fresh pasta every day. It’s a commitment to quality that I often curse myself for making. It requires a Zen-like attention to detail. Some days its just a chore, but on a good day, making pasta is blissful, allowing me a few minutes of peace in the place where craft and cooking come together.
How Much Pasta?
How Much Sauce?
One pound (450g) of Howie’s fresh pasta will feed three people as a main course easily.
One Pint (450g) of any of our pasta sauces is the correct amount of sauce for one pound of fresh pasta.
A generous single person portion of fresh pasta is four ounces (120g)
One half cup (120g) of any of our pasta sauces is the correct amount of sauce for one portion of fresh pasta.
In other words, use equal parts by weight of fresh pasta and our homemade sauces.
on Cooking Pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Use app. two tablespoons of (Kosher) salt per gallon of water. No need to be exact.
Cook the pasta until it is “al dente” - Read more on al dente further down the page
Drain the pasta, reserving a cup or so of the cooking liquid.
In a pan large enough to hold the pasta and the sauce, re-heat the sauce with a cup of the cooking water. No need to be exact.
Add the cooked pasta and cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously, until the pasta is cooked to your liking.
Add more cooking liquid to the pan as needed or allow the sauce to thicken (reduce) to the proper consistency as the pasta finishes cooking in the pan. This is much more intuitive than it sounds.
At the last minute, add grated cheese (if using), toss and taste for salt. Serve and enjoy.
• For more on how we make pasta at Howie’s, head over to Food for Thought
• Directions for the Gnocchi Kit in the Frozen Meals section of Howie.kitchen
The phrase “al dente” translates as ‘to the tooth or more succinctly as ‘Toothsome’. Pasta cooked al dente, is fully cooked but still quite firm in the mouth. There should not be any perceptible “raw" or hard texture in the interior of the noodle. Remember, al dente is still fully cooked.
It is, in most cases the way Italians prefer to eat their pasta, but for the American palette, pasta cooked al dente can often seem a bit undercooked. It’s your bowl of noodles, so you should cook your pasta any damn way you like. It’s all very subjective of course. More importantly, be aware that pasta is ruined when it is overcooked, even a little.
OUR PASTA SAUCES
Our pasta sauces, like everything made at Howie’s are made from scratch using first rate ingredients. Our pasta sauces are fully cooked and ready to use. They can be kept frozen indefinitely or stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days after being thawed. The container is microwave friendly.
Tomato paste, onions, garlic, cream, and a hint hot chili make for a deceptively simple recipe, but the results are sublime. The addition of vodka towards the end of cooking, adds a bit of sharpness to balance the sweetness of the tomatoes and the unctuousness of the cream
Rigatoni alla Vodka is all about the balance of Tomato, Olive oil and Good Parmesan. The cream is the canvas. So be sure to drizzle a little good olive oil over the pasta before digging in. The smell will make you smile. And for heaven’s sake, don’t skimp on the cheese.
Vodka Sauce Ingredients:
Tomato, Garlic, Onions, Olive Oil, Cream, Vodka (no alcohol), Spices and Seasonings
Available at Howie's in Palo Alto, CA
A simple Marinara is the heart and soul of the Italian kitchen. Ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a sprig of fresh basil cooked just long enough for the flavors to marry. Simmering tames the acidity of the raw tomatoes, leaving behind the sweet pure taste of the fruit. Olive oil makes the sauce rich in the mouth and more complex on the palette, adding back some of the acidity lost to cooking. Basil and garlic add nuance but a good Marinara is all about the that perfect flavor of a ripe tomato.
Marinara is always made with canned or conserved tomatoes. If those tomatoes came from your own garden, well that’s a special thing, but a good quality canned tomato is not so different. Often preferred. We use tomatoes grown in the central valley of California, because it seems silly to import canned tomatoes from Italy when some of the best tomatoes in the world are grown a couple hours from here. We add a pinch of sugar and splash of red wine vinegar to our Marinara because tomatoes grown in California, have great flavor, but not the acid balance of Italian tomatoes.
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
Canned Tomatoes, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Garlic, Sugar, Basil
Available at Howie's in Palo Alto, CA
Bolognese Sauce is a classic Italian sauce for pasta, one of many in a category known as Ragu. The sauce’s connection to Bologna Italy is tenuous and not especially important. In every region of Italy ragu is made to the preference of the local cooks, often based on traditions that go back generations, if not centuries. A ragu is a meat sauce or stew that is cooked low and slow almost always with a soffrito (a sauté of onion, carrots, and celery) and with wine. In Bologna and in many other regions of Italy, tomatoes are added to the ragu.
Bolognese sauce is maddeningly difficult to get right. And honestly, I’m still working on it. We use beef and pork in our ragu. You would never know there are chicken livers in the sauce, but they add a meatiness and a richness that a Bolognese requires. There is lots of red wine, canned tomatoes and tomato paste which is customary, as is the addition of whole milk, which cooks out to make the sauce unctuous and able to coat a noodle. Other than that Bolognese is a riot of seasonings, herbs and spices that someday, we might actually get right.