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January 23, 2017

3 Tips for Butternut Squash Rigatoni by Sal Avla

Prima executive chef Sal Avila wowed crowds with his tips for the Baked Rigatoni with Butternut Squash, Bacon and Ricotta recipe that he demonstrated in the Edible Kitchen last Saturday. Audience members walked away from the cooking demo with not only a savory sample, but a new recipe to add to their culinary arsenal (*featured below), and a slew of helpful information to ensure their outcome was a success. Here are a few highlights, helpful tips, and pointers from chef Sal's cooking demonstration in the Edible Kitchen at the Nashville Farmers' Market:

1) Never add oil to your pasta water. Yes, it's true. Most folks add a few tablespoons of olive oil to keep noodles from sticking together. However, according to chef Sal, this is a waste of good product. This viscous liquid can act as a layer that prevents the noodles from absorbing liquid, and that makes for a flavorless noodle. So for this recipe, skip the EVOO.

2) Don't be afraid to add plenty of salt. Leaving the olive oil out is grand, but skipping on the salt is a sin to true pasta devotees. According to chef Sal, the right amount of salt is reached when your pasta water tastes like the sea.You want to get that saltiness right into the pasta, so don't skimp on the sodium, people!

3) When it comes to parmesan, never buy the pre-grated stuff! This recipe calls for a good bit of salty parmesan, and chef Sal says to go for the good stuff. Buy a wedge of real Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and grate it at home with a box grater. The pre-grated stuff, though affordable, is nothing quite like the real thing.

*Ingredients for chef Avila's recipe were provided by farmers at the Nashville Farmers' Market, including organic winter butternut squash from Delvin Farms and locally raised bacon from KLD Farm

Find more info about this recipe on the Edible Nashville site

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