Tavola Raises the Bar on Pasta
A simple summertime pasta salad starts—how could it not?—with good pasta. All you need to add is fresh herbs, crunchy vegetables, olive oil and perhaps some crumbly cheese. Even in the heat of summer you can find it all at the farmers market, including artisanal pasta.
Tavola Pasta is the pride and joy of food artisan Sarah Zapien. She started small, with a single machine and pasta sheeter, and drying it on homemade racks. Sarah insists on using non-GMO flours and local produce. All colorings and flavors are natural. Beets, tomatoes and red bell peppers are used for red to orange; spinach, kale or basil for green; lemon zest or Butternut squash for yellow.
Little kicks and hints come from chipotle, cayenne pepper, lemon zest and other spices. The beetroot gnochetti sardi, for instance, are made with 25% roasted and puréed local beetroot, mixed with semolina flour. The dough is pressed through bronze dies to shape the gnochetti, and dried in the automated dryer for up to 48 hours.
“Drying the pasta is the most difficult process. Even with an automatic dryer we constantly have to adjust our drying recipes to consider ambient temperature, humidity, type of pasta and vegetables or spices used to flavor the pasta,” said Sarah, who today operates from a shared commercial kitchen in Midtown, where she has several large mixers, pasta extruders and a walk-in automated pasta dryer, all of which enable her to produce about 500 pounds of dry pasta per week.
> Tavola Pasta sells at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market on Eastside every Saturday from 8am to noon. You can also find it at Revival Market, Houston Dairy Maids, Spec’s, Urban Eats, The Spice Shop … and coming soon to Whole Foods Market.