Monday, November 11, 2013

Pappardelle's Pasta and Dave's Gourmet Pasta Sauces

It's time for another one of my combo reviews because you can't review pasta sauce without pasta noodles!  I used to eat just your run of the mill whole wheat noodles and cheap pasta sauce and thought it was fine. Over the past few years though I've realized that there are some really fantastic noodles and sauces that stick out from the rest.

Pappardelle's pasta makes some of those noodles. This company based in Colorado handmakes pasta in a variety of shapes using pure durum semolina flour. The kind of flour used to make pasta can make all the difference in the world. Pasta made with all-purpose or bleached flours are not as good and those made with a combination of all-purpose and durum semolina are only slightly better. Only pure durum semolina gives birth to this great-tasting pasta. They also hang dry their long-cut pastas for two to four days in specially designed chambers. I guess this is why their pastas taste so good. Their ingredients are 100% natural and their flavors are spectacular. They make so many flavors and shapes that it is overwhelming. I will review just three of their flavors.

So along with the pasta, one must have a pasta sauce. I had always seen Dave's Gourmet at Whole Foods, but I had never shelled out the $9 per jar to try them. When my friends heard that I received samples, they wanted to know whether it was really worth $9 per jar. I would say it is. Dave's Gourmet makes a number of specialty foods including pasta sauces. The three I tried were exceptionally good.

Take the Porcini Mushroom Linguine with the Spicy Heirloom Marinara sauce. This was a winning combination. The mushroom linguine made with just durum semolina flour, water, wheat gluten, porcini and bolete mushrooms, porcini paste, salt, granulated onion, and granulated garlic tasted like fresh porcini mushrooms had been pressed into flour -- so flavorful. The scent of mushrooms filled my home as I was boiling it! And this sauce was amazing. It is a spicy fresh marinara made with organic tomatoes, carrots, onions, tomato paste, extra virgin olive oil, evaporated cane juice, chilies, garlic, spices, and sea salt. It was chunky, fresh, inviting, and delicious.

Next, I paired the Whole Wheat Chipotle Lime Mafaldine with the Roasted Garlic & Sweet Basil sauce. Although I liked the chipotle lime noodles, I felt like they would have been better in a Mexican casserole.  They were just really spicy and with a Mexican flavoring that would have gone better with a Mexican dish. The roasted garlic and sweet basil sauce was divine. It's an all organic sauce made with chunky tomatoes and carrots with roasted onion chunks delicately balanced with garlic and sweet basil.

Lastly, I tried the Spinach Lemon Herb pasta along with the Masala Marinara.  These noodles were just as good as the porcini ones. Again, my home was filled with the scent of these noodles made with spinach, lemon flavor, lemon peel, thyme, basil, tarragon, and marjoram. The texture was perfect -- delicate, yet firm and just the right thickness. On the other hand, I have mixed feelings about the Masala Marinara. I liked the taste of this sauce a lot, but I think it would be better labeled as a simmer sauce. It is basically an Indian simmer sauce that is great if you think of it that way, but not as good if you use it on pasta. I simmered Gardein in it and put a Gardein cutlet on top of the pasta and ladeled it with sauce. It was very Indian.  The other thing I don't like about this pasta sauce is that it isn't organic and it has canola oil in it, which is likely genetically modified. I hope that Dave's turns this into an organic sauce in the future. With a mix of tomatoes, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, lime, and lemongrass, I think it has a lot of potential if labeled appropriately.

In sum, I absolutely love both of these companies. Pappardelle's gets high marks for using high quality ingredients and making pasta the old fashioned way. Though I hope they move towards using organic ingredients in the future.  These pasta noodles retail for $8 each and can be found at farmer's markets all over the country. You can also order them online here.

Dave's Gourmet truly makes gourmet pasta sauces and I loved the two organic Italian flavors. I also liked the Indian flavor, but thought it should be labeled a simmer sauce instead of a pasta sauce. These sauces retail for $9 each and can be found in a Whole Foods near you. You can also order them here.  Bon appetit!

Full Disclosure: Although the products were provided to me for free to review, that in no way influenced my veracious opinion. 

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