For many people, the word “Terroir” conjures colorful, wine-splashed mindscapes of faraway vineyards teeming with grapes of aromatic and flavor-based qualities unique to their respective growing areas. It might surprise some to know that the word and its meaning can also be correctly extended to food items. There are many, such as beef, chocolate, and oysters to name a few examples, whose inherent characteristics also are shaped in large part by the environmental factors of the areas in which they are produced. One other such food that sometimes gets overlooked in this respect (at least in the U.S.) is pasta.
Family-owned Felicetti pasta has been doing its thing since its founding in 1908. Its Monograno line of pasta represents the culmination of more than four years spent testing hundreds of ancient strains of wheat, farro and kamut, and is the world’s only pasta produced using single varietal ancient grains.
The idea of terroir applied to pasta intrigued us, so like the curious, food-loving squirrels we are, we dug deeper seeking more information. The company kindly responded with a breakdown of the flavors and aromatics brought to the figurative and literal tables by some of its products, along with wine pairing suggestions for each, (because wine just makes everything better).
Farro: Grown in Umbria, Italy, this protein-rich farro releases the delicate aroma of toasted hazelnuts and eggplant. With flavor notes of peanut butter and sweet red dates, Monograno Felicetti Farro pasta pairs well with red wines and full-bodied white wines.
Kamut: An ancient grain cultivated in Montana and Canada, Monograno Felicetti Kamut pasta has a floral, fruity aroma with the flavor of macadamia and pine nuts. Try this pasta alongside crisp white wines or fruity reds.
Matt: Made from a special variety of durum wheat harvested from farms in Puglia and Sicily, Italy, Monograno Felicetti Matt pasta has an aroma reminiscent of dried coconut and summer hay meadows. Matt pairs with many different wines; crisp sparkling wines clean the palate and bring out the pasta’s flavor of stone-baked bread topped with farm-fresh butter, while floral reds highlight the sweet aroma of coconut.
Naturally, they couldn’t whet our appetites like that and then not tell us where to go from here. Cooking any Monograno Felicetti pasta in wine, as in the recipes they shared with us below, is said to further enhance the flavor of this 100% organic, non-GMO, and Kosher certified pasta. Try them out the next time you’re craving an Italian meal that lets you taste the difference terroir can make.
Pasta alla Deficeira
(Pasta Cooked in White Wine)
- 1 (750-ml) bottle dry, fruity white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 pound Monograno Felicetti penne
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Grana Padano or any aged cheese
In a large saucepan, bring the wine and bay leaves to a boil.
Add the pasta, lower the heat to a low boil, and cook, loosely covered, until the wine is absorbed and the pasta al dente, about 20 minutes. Add more wine or hot water a little at a time if it seems to be getting dry before al dente; if it is too wet when the pasta is almost al dente, raise the heat to high to burn off the remaining liquid and alcohol.
Stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve topped with grated or shaved cheese.
Spaghetti al Nero d’Avola
(Spaghetti in Red Wine)
Serves 2 to 3*
- 1/4 cup ricotta, preferably sheep’s milk
- Salt and black pepper
- Olive oil
- 1/2 pound Monograno Felicetti spaghetti
- 1 small leek, finely sliced
- 1 cup dry red wine, preferably Nero d’Avola, plus more if needed
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Pecorino cheese
- Sliced almonds
- Mix the ricotta, salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg to taste, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl until combined. Set aside.
- Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water for just 3 minutes, then drain.
- Meanwhile, in a frying pan large enough to hold the pasta, fry half the leeks in 2 tablespoons of olive oil on high heat until dark golden, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.
- Add the remaining leeks to the pan, lower the heat to medium, and cook until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the wine and the sugar and stir to combine. Toss in the par-cooked spaghetti, raise the heat and stir constantly, adding the remaining wine only a few tablespoons at a time. Toss the spaghetti frequently, keeping the heat high, so the wine is absorbed into the pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente, adding more wine if needed. Stir in 2 tablespoons of grated pecorino until fully incorporated, then taste and season with salt, if needed, and pepper.
- Top each serving with a dollop of ricotta, some fried leeks and a sprinkle of almonds.
*Note: This recipe is best prepared in small servings to properly develop the wine glaze. If making enough for 4 to 5, double the ingredients and use two pans.
[Top Feature image: Monograno Felicetti]