Viewed Through a Different Lensi

Whether it officially came from China or Italy, there is one thing that absolutely everyone can agree on: Pasta is delicious, in all of its various forms. I have yet to meet a single person who flat out did not like pasta, any sort of pasta, or couldn’t be won over with a few persuasive dinners. Should such a person actually exist out there who refuses to be swayed, I simply don’t want to know them. Satisfyingly toothsome, uncomplicated, laughably easy to prepare, and an ideal blank canvas for every sauce, vegetable, and protein conceivable; what’s not to like? Even the cheapest, mass-produced noodles are happily incorporated into richly sauced dishes without protest. As I stirred $.80/pound pastina into a vat of minestrone one evening, I thus had to ask myself, Is there any merit in seeking out a higher standard in pasta production?

The answer is resolutely “Yes!” Although Pasta Lensi took the pain out of the experiment by providing two bags for trial, I know for sure that this will change my pasta purchasing habits. Touted as “authentic Italian pasta,” Pasta Lensi comes in 16 shapes, some familiar and some novel, each made of simply durum wheat semolina and water. In a food so simple, you can really taste the purity of the ingredients, and these noodles truly allow the golden, slightly toasted and vaguely nutty flavor of wheat to shine though. Instead of being just a bland base, these unique noodles actually have flavor– Imagine that! And like any real food stuffs, these even have expiration dates printed on the bags, which I have never seen on the usual blue boxes that land in my shopping cart.

As soon as I lay eyes on the Gigli, I knew it was destined to support a hearty, full-bodied stew of a dish. Considering the open bottle of red wine in the fridge, it didn’t take long for me glom on to the idea of a mushroom and seitan bourguignon. That incredibly rich, decadent stew is worthy of a post in itself, but for now, I was fixed on how the pasta would hold up. Needless to say, there needn’t have been any doubt in my mind, as the unique shape was perfectly suited to hold that sauce and complement the “meat” of the matter. A seriously satisfying bite, the varied thickness added interest and texture like I hadn’t expected, lending a pleasant density and heft overall.

It wasn’t long before the Trottole made it’s aspirations clear, and I could hear it crying out for a creamy white sauce, much like the traditional spirals in macaroni and cheese. Keeping it simpler and less cheesy, I went for a quick herbed bechamel sauce with broccoli, which was happily held between the springy twists. Who needs cheese, real of faux, when you can make such a luscious sauce out of merely soymilk? For something so potentially pedestrian, it was truly the pasta here that elevated the dish to something worth of dinner party status.

Though fancy shapes may not always be in the budget, it is clear that higher quality basics will always be worth the price, and Pasta Lensi will be at the top of my “splurge” list.

27 thoughts on “Viewed Through a Different Lensi

  1. I love pretty pasta shapes! I don’t eat pasta often, but I generally buy quinoa pasta now, even though the shape options aren’t terribly diverse. :)

  2. Oh wow what fun shapes! I am totally going to order some of these, if not for the high quality ingredients, than for the cute shapes! You totally did them justice and I’m so with you on the idea that anyone who is not a pasta lover must be seriously deranged. in many ways.

  3. Who knew pasta could be so fun? I actually rarely eat pasta; having grown up in a household with wheat, dairy, and tomato allergies, pasta was a rare dinner and so I never think of it these days. Silly me!

  4. You got yourself some novel shapes right there! But they are “practical” shapes – shapes that go well with almost any sauce and no-mess to eat too!

  5. I’m a complete pasta-lover too, and everything you made looks wonderful! I also gravitate toward new shapes…they’re so much fun, aren’t they? I had never heard of this company before, but their pasta sounds fantastic…thanks for introducing us to them!

  6. Amazing photos and wonderful food. Thanks.

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  7. For many years, I stuck with the cheapest dried pasta at the supermarket. Then, I hosted an exchange student from Italy, and he showed me what authentic pasta tastes like. There is no comparison, and once you do taste it, you will be spoiled forever!

    Btw, hope your leaky roof is all better! :)

  8. Love pasta, don’t eat it as much as I used to, trying to stay away from processed white flour…I’d rather eat pasta than cake, so I truly consider it a treat. Beautiful photos, well done.

  9. I also have yet to encounter anybody who does not enjoy pasta!

    Those two pasta dishes look absolutely amazing and irresistable! Both perfect for the winter to spring transition!

  10. I will admit I am smitten by novel pasta shapes. I was watching something on the cooking channel and they showed this cute family-owned pasta die making shop and I was in aw of all the dies that could be made. Simply smitten.

  11. I’m not a huge pasta eater, due to the wheat allergy, but I just LOVE the shape of different pasta – It must be an artsy thing, but seriously, I just can’t enough. I also like the dorky shaped pasta as well (insert: Alphabet pasta made for toddlers) :)

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