When you think pasta, don’t you think Italian? Pasta is an essential staple of the Italian kitchen and Italian family life and hospitality revolves around food. The Italian table is both romantic and lively, with a spontaneity unmatched in almost any other cuisine. The simplest meal is served in a beautifully colorful presentation, with flowers and candles to add a festive, yet intimate note. Pasta gift baskets can get your favorite couple off to a lifetime of deliciously easy meals, setting the perfect tone for that after dinner cup of espresso out on the balcony. What a lovely and inspiring gift for the newlyweds!
Here are a few suggestions on putting together a pasta gift basket that will form a family tradition of good eating, Italian style. The first inclusion in your pasta gift basket should be a recipe book for pasta sauces. The recipes for the sauce usually contain a recommendation for the type of pasta that works best for any given sauce. One excellent choice would be ‘The Top 100 Pasta Sauces’, by Diane Seed. Every recipe is luscious, authentic, easy and oh, so romantic. There are dozens of types of Italian pastas, including orzo, tagliatelle, fusilli, rigatoni, conchiglie and dateline. There are small and large tube types, flat rice-like pastas, flat and shaped pastas, such as bow ties and tortellini. It’s not just for looks that each of these pasta types were designed. Each goes best with particular types of sauces. The best quality pasta is made from whole Semolina wheat.
You’ll find the greatest variety at an Italian food market. The upscale gourmet supermarkets also carry a good variety. Another option you might want to consider for stuffing in to your pasta gift basket is a pasta machine. There’s really nothing better than freshly made pasta, so if the bride is into cooking, or just adventurous, a good pasta machine may just find a permanent spot on her kitchen counter. Pasta machines come with instructions and attachments that allow her to produce any pasta she might desire. Seasonings are part of the mystique of the Italian kitchen. In the U.S., we’re most familiar with the ‘Italian seasoning’, but there’s much more to make authentic Italian pasta dishes shine in all their glory.
Purists – which includes the vast majority of Italian cooks – insist on fresh herbs, rather than dried. There is a world of difference between fresh and dried herbs. Fresh herbs taste like a food ingredient, while dried herbs lend flavor more as an aside. Fresh herbs can be grown on almost any windowsill, or in a garden spot, ready to add to a recipe, at the peak of freshness. Your pasta gift basket is enhanced with a few packets of seeds. Rosemary, oregano, dill, tarragon, cilantro and Italian parsley will make a good beginner’s garden. Olive oil is a must for any pasta gift basket! Choose a high quality, virgin olive oil – of Italian origin, of course! – which will fill the bill for most pasta dishes. What might you add to make your pasta gift basket complete? Candles and a couple of hand painted Tuscany candlesticks! Now there’s your formula for a fetchingly authentic and romantic Italian pasta gift basket