It was a rainy March evening that brought Chef Lynn Crawford to a special event at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA). The Catelli Foods Corporation sponsored event was to announce the launch of new, all natural Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta, a first-of-its-kind product that is making its debut on Western Canadian store shelves.
Introduced into the Western Canadian market in late January, Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta blends 100 per cent Canadian whole wheat with five wholesome ancient grains: quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet and sorghum.
First of all, I had never heard of half the ancient grains mentioned, but Chef Crawford introduced us to each set of grains by letting us smell, taste and also touch them. Her popcorn sorghum was a big hit with the blogger crowd that hovered around her cooking table.
It was a fun event, with Chef Crawford poking fun at all the food bloggers who were often times too focused on their phones and taking pictures to fully immerse themselves in her world that centered on cooking and savoring every morsel. Only after she berated a few of them did they finally put down their phones to pay attention. For her, cooking is about humor, music, art, and creating memories. Her good natured humor and spunky attitude made the night fly by as she entertained and educated us on the finer merits of cooking with Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta.
Chef Crawford is an award-nominated cookbook author, chef-owner of Toronto-based Ruby Watchco restaurant, host of the Food Network Canada’s Pitchin’ In, judge of the Food Network Canada’s Chopped Canada, previous executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto and New York, and the first female Canadian invited to participate in the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters Season Five.
My take on this, is that I’ve always found healthy whole wheat pasta to very grainy and just not the same as regular pasta. But Catelli has transformed a mixture of ancient grains into something that’s healthy but still has the texture and flexibility that a regular pasta has. There’s no doubt that their product is going to be a big hit with anyone trying to go for the healthier option with a milder more conventional tasting that looks and feels like typical pasta.
What about those ancient grains that Catelli has picked for their pasta? The one’s I hadn’t really heard about except for Quinoa and Millet. Well, there’s a lot of healthy benefits to them. Just read on.
Quinoa: Dating back to the 13th century South American Inca Empire, quinoa is high in fibre, protein and minerals – including magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron – and low on the glycemic index.
Amaranth: Native to the Americas and prized by Aztec civilization, amaranth is rich in protein, containing all the essential amino acids, key vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron.
Teff: Originating in Ethiopia and Eritrea between 4,000 BCE and 1,000 BCE, this poppy seed-sized grain is high in protein, fibre, calcium, thiamin and iron.
Sorghum: Domesticated in Northeastern Africa more than 5,000 years ago, sorghum – a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin and magnesium – is known to support digestive health, help fight cardiovascular disease and help control blood sugar levels.
Millet: Cultivated 4,000 years ago from wild West African grass, this nutty-flavoured grain is known to be heart healthy, containing a high level of protein, magnesium and niacin. Alkalizing to the body, millet is considered one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available.
Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta retails for $3.29 and is available at major retailers in Western Canada. More information can be found at http://www.catelli.ca .
The end of the night featured all the bloggers creating one of Chef Crawford’s signature dishes for the pasta from scratch.
For those of you who are interested here is the recipe:
Chilled Noodle Salad with Ginger Wasabi Dressing
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 8 min
1 pkg (340 g) Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains Spaghettini
2 cups (500 ml) snow peas, thinly sliced diagonally
1 cup (250 ml) shelled edamame
1 small English cucumber
2 cups (500 ml) napa cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup (250 ml) red pepper, cut into matchsticks
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) cilantro leaves
2 tbsp (30 ml) black sesame seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) seasoned rice vinegar
3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil
2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon zest
2 tsp (10 ml) brown sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) sesame oil
1 tsp (5 ml) grated fresh ginger wasabi to taste
1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well. Rinse under cold water until well chilled; transfer to large bowl and set aside.
2. In a pot of boiling water, cook snow peas and edamame until tender-crisp. Drain and rinse under cold water until well chilled; set aside.
3. Meanwhile, halve the cucumber lengthwise and use the end of a spoon to scoop and discard seeds; cut cucumber into julienne strips.
4. Ginger-Wasabi Dressing: Whisk together rice vinegar, canola oil, soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, sesame oil and ginger. Season with wasabi to taste.
5. Add cucumber, snow peas, edamame, napa cabbage, red pepper, green onions and avocado to noodles; toss with enough dressing to coat.
6. Garnish with cilantro leaves and black sesame seeds.
Tip: If you have time, you can chill the noodle dish by refrigerating for 1 to 4 hours.