Do you have kids?

Would you like to get them involved when you cook?

If so, I've two perfect cannelloni recipes for you this month - one stuffed with beef, the other spinach and ricotta.

I've also cooked up a winter-warming baked penne recipe, produced an orecchiette video guide featuring mamma-in-law Marisa, and discovered an online wine retailer that really knows its stuff (they have my very favorite bottle of brunello, so I'm totally impressed).

So let's dig in and get munching......

Inside this month's issue:


Italian farmers grumpy about spagbol, Ken's a winner, and yours truly hits the Twittersphere.

New Additions

Kid-friendly cannelloni recipes (have them do the filling, just don't blame me for the mess!), tomato-drenched baked penne and an orecchiette shaping video.

Pastafact #13

Sunshine and horses: pasta-making beginnings in the US of A.


A bunch of cooking queries answered - from substituting rice with pasta, to covering lasagna and making transparent parcels.

A Great Online Wine Discovery...

They stock my favorite Brunello di Montalcino and more.

Learning La Lingua

Accommodation-booking words & phrases.

Ciao for now,

Pastastic Matt -

"Life is too short, and I'm Italian. I'd much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0" - Sophia Bush


Italian farmers get serious about spag bol

spaghetti bolognese recipeItaly's farmer's union - Coldiretti - has kickstarted a campaign to make sure spaghetti bolognese (or 'spag bol') is cooked exactly how it should be, complaining that this classic Italian dish is actually being mangled by cooks the world over.

Spag bol should, says Coldiretti, be cooked exactly how Bologna's Accademia Italiana della Cucina stipulated back in 1982.

And how is that? Served with egg noodle pasta tagliatelle, and the sauce should just contain the beef and a little bacon, over a staple base of onion, carrot and celery. No cream, no butter, no nonsense! Try my spagbol recipe here.

Ken wins our ceramics contest!

We have a winner!

Ken from Charlestown in Rhodes Island, USA, has won our recent 'Favorite Italian Restaurant' contest, bagging thatsArte ceramics worth $222.

Read Ken's winning restaurant recommendation (then add yours!)

I tweet therefore I am

Do you tweet? If so, click below to follow my pasta adventures:

Pastastic Twitter

New Additions

spinach cannelloni recipeRicotta & spinach cannelloni recipe

This spinach cannelloni is one of those Italian staple dishes you simply must learn. With its creamy ricotta and moreish bechamel, it’s fun to cook… and while you make the sauce your budding assistant(s) can mix the stuffing and fill the tubes.

beef cannelloni recipeBolognese cannelloni recipe

This super-simple cannelloni winner packs its pasta tubes full of basil-tinged beef bolognese, then smothers a rich, mozzarella-laden tomato sauce over the top. Do you really need to know any more than that? ;-)

pasta bake recipePenne pasta bake recipe with (tons of) tomatoes

If you’re like me and love all things tomato-based, this baked penne dish is the one for you; it has a base of juicy fresh toms, the pasta in the centre is smothered in tomato juice, then there are even more spheres of red deliciousness on top. Enough?

how to make orecchiette pasta shapesHow to make orecchiette pasta shapes

Nothing impresses dinner guests more than serving up homemade pasta shapes. In this quick video guide, Marisa helps by demonstrating exactly how to create your own orecchiette (or 'little ear' pasta) shapes using just a knife.

Pastafact #13

According to the National Pasta Association, the first American pasta factory was opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 1848, by a Frenchman named Antoine Zerega.

Monsieur Zerega apparently managed the entire operation with just one horse in his basement to power the machinery. Meanwhile to dry his spaghetti, he put his strands of the pasta on the roof to dry in the sunshine.

So does the firm still exist? Yes indeed it does - online here.


Introducing January's most pertinent posers. Click the links to read the full questions and answers. And feel free to add your comments there too...

What's the expression used when the pasta strands stick together? - Any ideas anyone??

What's a rice alternative for soups and risotto?

How do I make transparent pasta parcels?

Should I cover lasagna while cooking it?

Help - my pasta is drying out too much!

Got a pasta question? Ask it here.

A wonderful wine site

saratoga wine exchangeI've searched high and wide for an online wine site to recommend that sells more than a few uninspired bottles of Italian 'vino'. And I think I've finally found it.

Saratoga Wine Exchange is based in San Francisco, ships across the States, and seems to really know its stuff.

Theirs is the only wine site that seems to stock my favorite brunello (here), and there's lots of explanatory info at the start of each site section, to help educate you as you buy. Nice job.

Learning La Lingua

Looking to visit Italy? Then you'll need somewhere to stay.

Here are a few useful accommodation-related words and phrases:

- Hotel - "un albergo"(un is pronounced 'une')

- Room (hotel) - "una camera"

- Apartment - "un appartamento"

- To reserve - "riservare" (pron. ree-zare-var-eh)

- I would like to reserve a room - "Vorrei riservare una camera per favore" (pron. vor-ray...)

Quick recommendation:

If you would like to learn Italian, I very much recommend the Michel Thomas 8-CD audio course.

I've used this a lot and I've found it easier and quicker to learn from than any other language materials (and I've tried a few!). You just grab a coffee, press Play, and then speak when Michel asks you to. It's excellent.

You can find it here on Amazon US (or here on Amazon UK).

Most Popular Pages: January

Favorite Italian restaurants - Share your thoughts on a tip-top eatery.

Recipe Collections - Pasta recipes categorized by shape and ingredient.

Pasta alla norma - Always popular, this easy eggplant dish suits everyone.


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Get in touch with me here.

Ciao for now <>,


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