The center of the universe — Italy

I recently came back from a three month working culinary tour of Italy where I fell truly, madly, deeply, in love with pasta. I am a young cook from Massachusetts and embarked on the journey to awaken my senses to the culinary center of the universe that is Italy (apologies to the French). After spending about a month in Florence, eating anything and everything I could get my hands on, I decided to spend the second month volunteering on a farm in the rural city of Città di Castello, about an hour and a half east of Florence. For one month I planted seeds, milked goats, mowed grass, and for the turning point…made pasta. I had made homemade pasta a handful of times before; my dad always made it around Christmas time and I had taken a class about it earlier in the trip. But for some reason, learning it here was completely different. I was taken to another planet when I was making pasta on the farm — it was a transcendental experience for me, if you will. I fell in love with the art of it and knew that I had to continue when I arrived back to the states.

Handcrafted pasta had taken hold of me and wasn’t letting go anytime soon. Here I am, a few months later, back in the states and it’s grip is stronger than ever — I recently opened an Italian inspired handcrafted pasta business, Allora Pasta Co. I use the recipe that I learned from the woman in Italy and take the same time, care, and love as I did then. I focus on carefully sourced ingredients — working with local farmers as much as possible to ensure a delicious, quality product you can feel good about eating and sharing with your loved ones.

While I can’t share my secret pasta recipe with you, I will share a few of my favorite sauces to go along with your pasta of choice. Whip up one of these bad boys, grab yourself a bag (or 5) of Allora, a bottle of Prosecco and you’ll be transported to a little caffe set upon cobble stone streets and beautiful churches in the center of Rome. To learn more about Allora Pasta Co. and my Italian adventures, visit

Aglio e olio (Garlic and Oil)

Italy’s most beloved sauce and a staple of Italian cooking, aglio e olio is simple to make but offers a complex flavor that will have any guest impressed by your skills.

6 tbsp and 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1/2 cup pasta water, mmm starchy = creamy
Red pepper flakes (if you like a little kick!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Make this recipe after the pasta has already been cooked and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the garlic and 6 tablespoons of oil to a large, hot (this is important) pan. Add red pepper flakes for that little kick. Cook over medium heat until garlic is light brown. Transfer your fully cooked pasta and the pasta water to the pan, rev up that heat, and cook — continually stirring and tossing until a creamy sauce forms and coats all of the pasta. Remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, stir well to combine.

Basil Almond Pesto

Deriving from Genoa, Italy, Pesto has been around for centuries. While this isn’t the exact ‘Italian recipe’ it is an adapted version I think you will find delectable to your taste buds.

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine basil, garlic, and almond in food processor and pulse until all is coarsely chopped. Slowly add the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in the cheese. Salt and pepper until perfection!

Tuscan Ragú

Ah, ‘meat sauce.’ The perfect addition to any pasta dish. Turning a light snack into a hearty, wholly satisfying meal. Add the ingredients to a crock pot and simmer for a few hours to invite an even more complex flavor over for dinner.

1 cup stock of choice (veggie, chicken, or beef)
14oz ground beef
3.5oz ground pork, such as ground sausage
2 medium white onions
3 peeled tomatoes
1 celery stick
1 carrot
2 glasses of red wine, 1 to sip and 1 for the sauce 😉
1 cup of milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Add a drizzle of oil to a medium sized pot and brown the vegetables on a medium-high flame, add 1/2 cup of the stock to keep from burning. Season with salt and pepper. Once browned, add the meat and continue to brown. Add the wine (1 cup) and let it reduce and eventually evaporate. Stir in tomatoes and milk. Add more broth if necessary to avoid sticking. Cook on low flame for an hour or so — until all the meat is cooked through and the flavors have come together. Salt and pepper to taste.

All recipes have been adapted from ones I had learned during my time in Italy.

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