I absolutely love pasta. I could eat it every day, and sometimes I do. I was thrilled when my go-to pasta brand, Barilla®, reached out and asked me to work on a collaboration to introduce my readers to their new Collezione line of artisanal pastas. To learn more about Barilla Collezione, I headed to Barilla’s U.S. headquarters – located right in the Chicago suburbs – along with some of my food blogging friends for an afternoon of cooking, and eating.
Barilla Collezione wants to encourage at-home chefs to experiment in the kitchen, and in line with that message, we spent a good chunk of our afternoon in the Barilla kitchen.
I was excited for this project not only because I am a fan of Barilla, but because I embrace every opportunity to get out of my kitchen and cook with fellow food bloggers. Being a food blogger is a pretty isolating career – I LOVE it – don’t get me wrong, but when you work from home by yourself, you can long for some human interaction. Getting to spend time outside of my home office cooking with a professional chef and my food blogger friends is one of my favorite parts of my career.
I was joined by Lauren, Carolyn, Caroline, Delane, and Katie at Barilla, where we met Barilla Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni. Chef Lorenzo is originally from Bologna, and he is tasked with creating recipes using Barilla pasta (sounds like a dream job!). Part of his job is creating the recipes on the back of the Barilla boxes. Barilla has a big gorgeous test kitchen, and upon our arrival we were greeted with glasses of prosecco, focaccia that Chef Lorenzo had just made for us, and some cheese and prosciutto.
While we snacked, Chef Lorenzo got to work showing us how to make his Spaghetti with Roasted Butternut Squash, and Porcini Mushrooms topped with Microgreens. It was a perfect combination of fall flavors. While he cooked, Chef Lorenzo explained how Barilla Collezione is different. It is cut with traditional Italian bronze plates, which gives the pasta a rougher more porous surface that holds on to sauces better than other pastas. The Barilla Collezione line also has unique shapes like bucatini and casarecce.
Chef Lorenzo is also a talented photographer, and he took us into his photo studio to show us how he styles and shoots his dishes. He showed us how he creates the perfect swirl of pasta, and gets just the right amount of pasta in each serving. He made it look so easy as he used a two pronged tool to twist pasta inside a ladle, but we found it to be so challenging when we tried it ourselves!
Chef Lorenzo gave us lots of tidbits of advice throughout the day. One thing that I will be sure to remember is his advice to strain the pasta just before it reaches al dente and then to let it finish cooking in the sauce. This helps the pasta hold onto the sauce and soak up more of the flavor.
When it was time to split into groups of two to cook, I teamed up with my good friend Lauren of Lakeshore Lady. We both love bucatini, so we made Bucatini with Smokey Amatriciana Sauce. It combines onion, bacon, Parmesan, garlic, and basil in a San Marzano tomato sauce. It was incredible.
I think that everyone will agree that the best part of the day was when we got to sit down and taste all the pastas we made.
If you haven’t tried Barilla Collezione yet, you can find it at your grocery store in the pasta aisle. It has a texture that is more like homemade pasta, and it is an easy way to elevate your home cooking and dining experience.
Barilla Collezione and Bucatini with Smokey Amatriciana Sauce
- 1 box Barilla® Collezione Bucatini
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small yellow onions cut julienne
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup bacon cut julienne
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1 28- ounce can San Marzano style tomatoes and liquid
- Sea salt to taste
- 4 basil leaves torn
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese grated
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a skillet, gently cook onions with olive oil, red pepper and garlic until translucent, about five minutes.
- Add bacon; sauté for 4-5 additional minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, 2 cups of water and let simmer until extra liquid is evaporated and the sauce thickens.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and toss with sauce and basil.
- Sprinkle with cheese before serving.
You can find so many more recipes on the Barilla Collezione site – Chef Lorenzo is a pasta genius, I can’t even look at these recipes without my mouth watering.
This post was sponsored by Barilla Collezione, and as always, the opinions expressed are my own.