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Top Pick Of The Week

December 12, 2006

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Snowman Pasta And Soup
Whether seasonal or personal interest theme, Pasta Shoppe’s “pasta with personality” adds pizzazz to any meal. Shown: Wintertime Chili, a pre-packaged set with snowman and snowflake pasta.
WHAT IT IS: Fun pasta shapes in gift packages.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: The largest collection of fun shapes anywhere—150—including pasta alone or packaged in Pasta Salad, Soup, Chili or Meal Kits with marinara sauce.
WHY WE LOVE IT: It’s an easy way to celebrate holidays and special occasions, enliven everyday meals and bestow small but attractive gifts.
WHERE TO BUY IT: PastaShoppe.com.


Pasta Shoppe:
Ship-Shape Pasta

Actually, there is no ship-shaped pasta, but the Pasta Shoppe makes 150 other shapes, packaged into a variety of assortments. The company lays claim to the world’s largest fun- shape pasta collection, which it sells in gaily illustrated packages with cute names such as Horsin’ Around, Martini Time, Surf’s Up and Reindeer Noodle Soup. The $4.99 packages make inexpensive gifts with a higher perceived value. They also afford an occasional “fun pasta night” at home, whether to celebrate the holiday-of-the-month (Santas, shamrocks, bunnies), seasons (fall leaves, snowmen, surfboards), birthdays (the celebrant’s passion—golf clubs, soccer balls, musical notes), or just to enliven an everyday meal. The pastas can be mains or sides, cold pasta salads or added to soups (Pasta Shoppe sells packaged versions that include chili, soup, vinaigrette and sauce mixes). Healthy, fun and easy-to-make, we stock up on these for gift-giving and personal nibbling throughout the year. The pasta is kosher-certified. And if you want your own company logo pasta or fundraising program, give Pasta Shoppe a call. Read the full review below.*

*If your e-mail client does not support anchor links that jump to text above or below, e.g. AOL, please scroll down.

Make Great Pasta

The Complete Book of Pasta And Noodles The Pasta Bible Complete Pasta Cookbook
The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles, by Cook’s Illustrated. Master the art of making pastas from all over the world. Compiled by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, this book offers illustrated (of course), step-by-step instructions on everything from how to roll pasta dough to making Ramen Noodles with Roast Pork and Spinach. Click here for more information or to purchase. The Pasta Bible, by Jeni Wright. Make easy and delicious authentic Italian dishes with this reader favorite. Recipes vary from easy to moderately difficult. Each dish has a photo and step-by-step instructions with inset photos (why isn’t every cookbook like this?). Click here for more information or to purchase. Complete Pasta Cookbook, by Williams-Sonoma. This all-occasion book of pasta recipes offers an array of classic dishes and new concepts, whether you’re looking for a weekday meal or a party dish. Each recipe reflects Williams-Sonoma’s classic good taste, and is accompanied by a full-color photograph. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Pasta Shoppe: Pastas In 150 Fun Shapes

INDEX

 

Pasta is one of America’s favorite foods. It’s a healthy food, it’s easy to make and it’s inexpensive. But is pasta a “fun food?”

Those who have eaten the numerous kids’-cartoon versions of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, or the Cheddar Bunnies, Arthur, or D.W. varieties from Annie’s, would say yes—but how about the rest of us who are old enough to drive? A more adult pasta fun awaits, in the form of choose-your-fun-and-cook-it shapes from Pasta Shoppe.

Proprietors John and Carey Aron began their Nashville company with, appropriately, Music City Pasta, a mixture of guitar and boot shapes. Today, 150 different shapes celebrate most popular American holidays and interests. While there are stunning gourmet pasta shapes wrought by Italian artisans that are truly works of art (see our Top Pick of the Week from earlier this year about Italian Harvest Pastas), here is pasta to smile at. And you should plan to do so, perhaps once a month.

Valentine Pasta
Plan ahead for Valentine’s Day: These hearts, called “Eat Your Heart Out,” are already selling fast!
Baseball Pasta Horsin' Around Pasta Martini Pasta
Baseball Pasta: Bats, balls and gloves for fans of the boys of summer.
Horsin’ Around Pasta: Galloping horses, horse heads and horseshoes.
Martini Time Pasta: Martini and shaker pasta and a recipe for “Olive You” pasta salad.

Fun: The New Pasta Perspective

Pasta Shoppe pastas are a tool in the arsenal of meal diversification. You don’t have to think too much to:

  • Enliven everyday meals
  • Celebrate special occasions
  • Have special accents or garnishes for other dishes (green salads, cooked vegetables, pizza, small ramekins, plate decor)
  • Keep something special on hand for un-expected guests or their children
  • Cajole fussy eaters
  • Cheer up an under-the-weather family member
  • Make your pasta salad contribution really stand out at a party

Some of the basic 14-ounce pasta packages come with recipes for pasta salad, antipasto or mac and cheese. The company also offers pre-packaged “15 Minute Meals” which include pasta salads with a vinaigrette mix, pasta with marinara sauce mix or chili or soup with pasta.

The 14-ounce package serves 6 to 8 as a side, 4 adults as a first course, 2 adults as a main.

Chicken-Shaped-Pasta
Feeling under the weather? How about some chicken soup...with chicken pasta? The pasta poultry above come in a Chicken Noodle Soup Kit (the eagle-eyed reader need not write to point out that they’re roosters).

A Year Of Pasta Fun

No matter what the month, treat your family and friends to a pastalicious dish:

  • January (Super Bowl® Sunday, Winter): Tailgate and Celebrate Pasta (footballs and helmets), Snowman Pasta (snowmen and snowflakes)
  • February (Valentine’s Day, Winter): Eat Your Heart Out Pasta (heart shapes), In The Woods (bears, moose and cabins)
  • March (March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day): Basketball Pasta (basketballs), Lots of Luck (shamrocks and clovers)
  • April (Easter, Spring): Bunny Hop Pasta (rabbits), Sunshine and Flowers Pasta (sunbursts and flowers)
  • May (Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day): Fiesta Pasta (sombreros and maracas), American Pride Pasta (flags and stars)
  • June (Summer): Baseball Pasta (bats, balls and gloves), Surf’s Up! Pasta (surfboards and beach balls)
Fall Leaves Pasta
Fall Harvest Pasta is one of a dozen seasonal themes (but is tasty any time of the year).
  • July (Independence Day): American Pride Pasta (flags and stars), Margarita Time Pasta (Margarita glasses and parrots)
  • August (Summer): Palm Tree Paradise Pasta (palm trees and sunbursts), Lobster Time Pasta (lobsters)
  • September (Back-to-School, Harvest): ABC-123 Pasta (letters and numbers), Apple Orchard Pasta (apples)
  • October (Fall): Fall Harvest Pasta (leaves and pumpkins), Garden Veggies Pasta (carrots, corn, peppers, tomatoes), Halloween Pasta (ghosts, pumpkins, spider webs)
  • November (Thanksgiving): Gobble It Up Pasta (turkeys), Gingerbread Man Pasta (gingerbread men and houses)
  • December (Chanukah, Christmas): Christmas Tree Pasta (trees), Naughty and Nice Pasta (Santas and gifts), Reindeer Pasta (reindeers), Star of David Pasta (stars)
Good Luck Pasta Tailgate Pasta Vineyard Pasta
Good Luck Pasta: Shamrocks and clovers.
Tailgate Pasta: Footballs and helmets.
Vineyard Pasta: Grape clusters and leaves.

Cat Lovers' PastaThese are just some of the options. Girls will enjoy Girlfriends Pasta (purses, cell phones and high heels), cyclists will want the Bicycle Pasta. The best-seller, aside from seasonal specialties, is the Vineyard Pasta (grape clusters and leaves). Smaller 6-ounce Gift-Bag sizes (photo at right) are available in a slightly different selection, including some shapes that are not packaged in the larger sizes (Cat Lovers Pasta, Dog Lovers Pasta, Racing Pasta (race cars) and Thanks A Million Pasta (dollar signs).  The Gift Bag packages are cute, but they only provide two small portions. For the extra dollar, the 14-ounce bag is a far better value.

A note on cooking: these pastas are best enjoyed al dente. While they are made from enriched durum wheat, softer consistencies can cause the delicate design spokes, petals and leaves to dissemble. Let Santa keep his head and sunbursts their rays: enjoy your pasta on the chewy side.


15-Minute Meals

The company also offers 15-Minute Meals: pasta packaged with the fixings to make chili or soup, a marinara sauce mix or a vinaigrette mix for pasta salad. For the time-strapped, cooking-Soup And Salad Mixesaverse, college kids, new parents, new movers and others who don’t have a lot of energy to cook, they are adorable and a godsend. They’re also perfect for kids, especially as special rewards. The Under The Sea Mac ‘n Cheese with orange starfish and seahorses, white crabs and green dolphins  is cuter than anything else on the market...and we think, tastier, too. Down On The Farm Mac ‘n Cheese has chickens, cows, pigs and barns. You’ll have young ‘uns begging for a bowl of Reindeer Noodle Soup (reindeer pasta, carrots and peas in a chicken broth), while older siblings may cotton to Boot Kickin’ Chili (boots and spurs), Team Sports Pasta Salad or Hearty Noodle Soup (red and white pasta hearts). Who knows...a bowl of red and white heart pasta may become the new way to say “I Love You,” “I’m Sorry,” or “Oops, I Forgot Your Birthday And I’m Glad I Had This Fancy Pasta In The Cupboard.”

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to anyone who loves pasta or likes to give gifts.

Pasta Shoppe

Fun Pasta Shapes

Certified kosher (pareve) by Ner Tamid K

  • Bag Of Pasta (Shown At Right)
    14 Ounces
    $4.99
  • Gift Bag
    6 Ounces
    $3.99
  • Chili or Soup Set
    $5.99
  • Soup or Salad Set
    $4.99

Purchase online at PastaShoppe.com

Or telephone 1.800.247.0188,

Products can be found at specialty food and gift stores across the U.S.

Custom-designs and logo shapes are available. Minimum quantity required.

Prices and flavor availability are verified at
publication but are subject to change.

Pasta Shoppe Decorative Pastas
You can enjoy holiday pasta at home, give it as gifts or choose a theme of personal interest (wine, golf, tennis, the tropics...). The 14-ounce bags, shown above, provide side portions for 4 to 6 people.

Pasta Shoppe 15-Minute Meals

15-Minute Meals include pasta salads, soups and chilis in holiday and everyday themes—like Gingerbread Man Pasta Salad or autumn-colored leaves for Fall.



Check out these favorite pasta products:

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ABOUT THE NIBBLE. THE NIBBLE, Great Food Finds™, is an online magazine about specialty foods and the gourmet life. It is the only consumer publication and website that focuses on reviewing the best specialty foods and beverages, in every category. The magazine also covers tabletop items, gourmet housewares, and other areas of interest to people who love fine food.

 

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