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Barilla Masters of Pasta

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla®. The opinions and text are all mine.

Barilla Collezione Lunch 6

Sometimes I wonder if I am being punked… like when Barilla® (one of my favorite food brands) emails asking if I would like to attend a lunch with tennis legend Roger Federer and Olympic Gold Medalist Mikaela Shiffrin. Oh and the lunch is being prepared by none other than Top Chef winner Joe Flamm at Spiaggia? Is this real? Unbelievably it was, and I got to join my friend Lauren for a lunch I will never forget.

Barilla Collezione Lunch

The first course of the lunch was Joe Flamm’s take on the classic Piedmontese dish Vitello Tonnato. Instead of serving thinly sliced veal with a tuna sauce, Flamm created an appetizer with Bluefin tuna, veal aioli, crispy capers, and smoked wagu. I love how he completely recreated the dish but used the same ingredients!

Barilla Collezione Lunch 2

The second course was the main event. Flamm served Pomodoro Fresco with Barilla Collezione Rigatoni, dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, and parmigiano reggiano.

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Chef Flamm surprised Roger by bringing him an extra large plate of pasta – he thought that he earned it after training for the Laver Cup which is taking place in Chicago this weekend. Roger excitedly ate every bite.

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After lunch I got to sit down with Mikaela Shiffrin – she became one the first athletes sponsored by Barilla when she was on the U.S. Ski Team! She explained that she started working with Barilla when she was only 16, before she ever won a title. Since then she has gone on to win two Olympic gold medals. Plus, she is a three-time World Champion in slalom and a two-time Overall World Cup champion.

Mikaela met Guido Barilla – one of the Barilla brothers – six years ago before one of her races on the border of Italy and Austria. He had just come in from a Nordic ski and over cups of coffee and hot chocolate, they decided to start working together. Soon after the partnership was solidified, Mikaela’s career took off!

One thing that I really wanted to talk to Mikaela about was how she fits pasta into her diet. She said a common misconception about pasta is that people always tend to think of spaghetti and meatballs, when there are so many ways to prepare it. You can add chicken, lean meats, and vegetables to pasta to make a nutritious meal. Carbs and protein are very important parts of her diet and that pasta is her go-to way to get carbs – pasta is part of Mikaela’s diet almost every day.

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She says that pasta like the one Joe Flamm prepared for lunch is her favorite. She loves lighter tomato sauces. She likes to have a pasta with a simple pomodoro sauce or a bolognese on the night before race days.

Mikaela loves Barilla so much that she often buys it when she is on the road – it’s easy to find in the places she travels too. And sometimes Barilla even ships pasta to her hotel. She says that pasta is the one food that she wants to eat when she is nervous on race day.

Besides our mutual love of Barilla, Mikaela and I have one more thing in common. We adore Chef Lorenzo Boni, Barilla’s Executive Chef. Mikaela has also been to the Barilla Headquarters to cook with Lorenzo, and we agreed he is the nicest and that he makes the most amazing food! Last fall he taught me how to make a Barilla Collezione Smokey Amatriciana Bucatini.

Our Pomodoro Fresco Recipe

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Inspired by the Pomodoro Fresco prepared by Chef Joe Flamm, Lauren and I created our own recipe for Barilla Collezione Penne with a rustic tomato sauce, basil, and parmesan.

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This pasta requires few ingredients and just 20 minutes of preparation time. It’s a wholesome meal that can be made on a busy weeknight. I love how it is uncomplicated and lets the taste and texture of the pasta take center stage.

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The one secret that we learned from Chef Flamm is to grate sundried tomatoes over the pasta to finish it. It adds a depth of flavor, and it is such an easy cooking hack!

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Barilla has been in my pantry my entire life. My Mom is half Italian and pasta was always a part of our diet – and Barilla pasta was always stocked in our home. As an adult, pasta is my favorite food. I eat pasta almost everyday! I have been cooking with Barilla Collezione for over a year now. I love it because it is an easy way to take my meal from everyday to gourmet!

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Collezione is Barilla’s line of artisanal pastas. These pastas are different because they are extruded through bronze dies. This gives the pasta a rougher more porous surface which helps sauces cling to it. If you look at the pasta you can actually see its unique texture. It is more similar to homemade pasta!

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How to Make Pomodoro Fresco:

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Pomodoro Fresco

Yield: 2 servings
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A rustic 20 minutes pasta recipe. Penne is served with a fresh tomato sauce seasoned with garlic, basil, and parmesan.


  • 1 pound Medium Tomatoes on the Vine
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon torn Basil
  • 2 teaspoons grated Parmigiana Reggiano
  • 4 ounces Barilla Collezione Penne or Rigatoni
  • 1 Sundried Tomato
  • Salt and Pepper


First place the tomatoes in a food processor and purée.

Next, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic. Sauté for 1 minute before pouring in the tomato purée. Bring to a simmer, and let reduce while you prepare the pasta.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once the water boils, add the pasta. Cook the pasta until very al dente. You want to undercook it a little since you will finish it by cooking it in the sauce for one minute. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta.

Stir the drained pasta, the pasta water, and the basil into the tomato sauce. Let cook for 1 minute and then divide the pasta between 2 plates.

Top the pasta with the parmesan, and then grate some of the sundried tomato over using a microplane. Serve immediately.

Did you make this recipe?

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This post was sponsored by Barilla Collezione, and as always, the opinions expressed are my own.

Pomodoro Fresco | A simple recipe made with Barilla Collezione Penne and a rustic tomato sauce with basil, garlic, and parmesan. #pasta #dinner

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