Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun

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Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun with A Toast to Travel.

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February 2017

Why are there different pasta shapes? Part 3

By |2017-02-27T20:31:07+00:00February 24th, 2017|Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun|

Hi Everybody,

Continuing with our discussion about different pasta shapes and what sauces go best with each, we will be talking about the filled pasta today.

The most common pasta that is filled are the Ravioli, tortellini, cappelletti.  As we are all aware, there are many variations on these popular pastas as far as sauce and filling is concerned.  The most popular of these pastas is probably the ravioli.  Ravioli is a pocket type filled pasta that is cut into squares.  There are variations of the ravioli that include deep fried, but the traditional and the best preparation is served in an amazing sauce that compliments the filled pasta.  The ravioli is made from very thin sheets of pasta, and then topped with the filling and finally covered with another very thin sheet of pasta and cut into individual squares.  Be sure to make the pasta so thin that you can almost see through it, or it will be too doughy and not great.

Tortellini and cappelletti (little hats) are very similar.  There are some slight differences such as the cappelletti start from squares of pasta whereas tortellini start from circles and tortellini tends to be smaller.  It seems that the biggest difference is really the region in Italy that you are in.  These pastas are filled with a variety of fillings such as cheese, vegetable or meat.

Stuffed pastas are typically served in a lighter sauce since the filling is the main event and packed with the flavor.

Join A Toast to Travel’s Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun 7 day cooking Experience set in the heart of Tuscany to learn how to make some of these dishes.

Buona mangiata!!


Why are there different pasta shapes? Part 2

By |2017-02-24T08:16:29+00:00February 15th, 2017|Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun|


Hi everybody,

Last post we discussed long and thin pastas like spaghetti and linguine.  This post we will talk about the long ribbon pasta such as tagliatelle, pappardelle and fettuccine.  Fettuccine is probably the most recognized long ribbon pasta and the famous fettuccine alfredo.  Interestingly enough, fettuccine alfredo is more of an American dish, and almost completely absent in Italy except for maybe the real tourist places.

The long ribbon pastas are ideal for heavier, rich and meaty sauces because they are typically fresh and are more porous.  One of my favorites is Pappardelle al Cinghiale (Wild Boar) and also one of the dishes that you will learn how to cook on our Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun cooking Experience.

There are often questions as to what is the difference between fettuccine and Tagliatelle and the answer is they are really the same.  It really just boils down to what region of Italy you are in as to which version of the pasta you will see.

Whenever possible try and make your own pasta, and you will see the difference in taste.  When cooking these pastas, as always start with a large pot and do not overcrowd.  The pasta should have room to cook so that they do not stick to each other.


Why are there different pasta shapes?

By |2017-02-24T08:46:12+00:00February 12th, 2017|Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun, Wine|

To celebrate A Toast to Travel’s Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun, our latest experience, we will explore the different types of pasta and what type of sauce is best paired with it.  We will divide this into a series of posts so be sure to check back often.

There are many different types of pasta to choose from, and this post will discuss the long and thin pastas.  The most common are Spaghetti, linguine, and vermicelli.  Spaghetti a long round pasta and is probably the most common pasta.  Linguine is long and flat while vermicelli is round and thinner than spaghetti also known as spaghettini.  These types of pastas are best suited for light sauces such as seafood, cream or oil based.  Linguine and a clam sauce is a very typical Italian pairing that is delicious.  Pasta should be paired with the correct sauce because of the taste and texture as well as the ability for the sauce to adhere to the pasta for the best result.  Obviously, you can be as creative as you want but we are just discussing the classic preparations.

When cooking pasta you should use a pot large enough for the pasta to move around.  If the pot is too small, the pasta will stick to each other and not turn out well.  You should salt to taste, there are several schools of thought but salt taste.  Remember to reserve some of the water that you cooked your pasta in so that you can use it in your sauce if needed.

Remember to experiment with different ingredients, and when creating your sauce do not skimp on the ingredients.  One of the most important things to remember, and what we spend a lot of time with in our Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun Experience is the quality and freshness of your ingredients.  Use fresh vegetables, herbs and meat.  It isn’t always possible to pick your own oregano, but try to use fresh as much as possible.

Check back for our next discussion, and be sure to check out our Experience Tuscany – Live Like a Local Experiences.