The Modern Pantry: Baia Pasta

Baia Pastas, lovingly made by two Italians in Oakland, California. Made by two Italians in California with wheat from Utah, Montana, and Colorado, Baia Pasta is as authentic as it comes, and yet as local as one can get. "We believe that American wheat is among the best in the world and are very proud to create the first pasta that glorifies all its features. We always travel with a couple bags of Baia Pasta" say the founders, and after you read more about this delicious, locally made pasta phenomenon, I am sure that you'll do the same.Founders and creators of Baia Pasta, Renato Sardo and Dario Barbone, were both born and raised in Piemonte located in the Northwestern region of Italy (where some of the best wine grapes are grown: Barolo, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbera, to name a few).

When the pair learnt that wheat was grown in America, shipped to Italy to make pasta, then shipped back to be sold in the U.S., they knew they had to make a change for the people, for the better. Hence the idea for Baia Pasta was born. Despite their Italian roots, they still wanted to provide the best possible product, so Renato spent a few years learning everything he could about the art of making pasta.

Baia Pasta packaging

What's even more refreshing and exciting about  their pasta is the variety in the grain. They have Gigli (meaning lilies in Italian, and look just as beautiful) that are made from organic whole durum wheat, and Gemilli (twins) made with organic whole spelt. My personal favorites are the Paccheri (slaps, because of the noise they make when eaten) made with organic whole durum wheat semolina and the Orrechiette, (little ears) made with organic Khorasan Kamut (a grain originally from the Fertile Crescent and known for its nutty flavor). Below is the carefully crafted process that the Italian duo take to make this pasta bellissima.

The Baia Process:

  • Well-kneaded with cold water to create a compact fragrant dough that maintains all the original integrity of the flour.
  • Extruded gently in small batches through brass dies, giving the pasta a rough surface to create a good al dente and to absorb sauce.
  • Dried at low temperatures (never over 105.25 degrees F) to preserve the original protein and gluten content of the wheat and maintain its great flavor.


"Eat it...Make it...Grow it" these two have been all about practicing what they make from the start.

To find out more about Baia Pasta and its talented owners, check out the link below for their story and where to purchase:


For more Modern Pantry stories, CLICK HERE.

Photos courtesy of Baia Pasta.

How to Make Fresh Pasta

flour, eggs, pasta When time is of the essence, making anything from scratch can be difficult. You don't want to mess up but you want to make a delicious meal. Pasta is quick and easy and very versatile when it comes to adding flavors and ingredients. From something subtle like sliced garlic and olive oil to something classic like Bolognese sauce, pasta can withstand lots of different flavors. It's easy to reach for boxed pasta, but making fresh pasta at home is much more rewarding. I strongly believe that once you have freshly made pasta, you will never go back to eating boxed pasta again. But what do you do when you don't have a pasta machine at home? Easy! Break out the flour, eggs and homemade  sauce and  follow these 3 steps to making fresh pasta at home without a pasta machine. 

The Process of Mixing: 

Mixing fresh pasta involves space and your hands. Making a well in the center of the flour, adding your eggs in the middle and then gradually incorporating flour from the sides is one of the keys to your fresh pasta. Keep mixing the eggs into all the flour. If still moist, sprinkle more flour until the dough begins to come together. If too dry, wet your hands with some water and continue to mix dough.

Knead, Knead, Knead! 

Once all the flour and egg is combined, now is the time to place the dough on a flat floured surface and knead it. Fold dough into quarter turns and continue folding, pushing, and turning until the dough becomes smooth, elastic, and silky. Be sure to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.

Pasta Time: 

After your dough has rested, flour your surface again and knead for 1 minute and cut dough into 4 sections. It's easier to roll out dough in smaller pieces versus rolling one large piece. Flour your rolling pin and roll dough loosely and evenly into a thin even layer, rolling as flat as possible. Once flattened, fold your sheet of pasta (resembling an omelet) and slice pasta into strips with a sharp knife. Allow pasta to dry for 30-40 minutes before cooking in boiling salted water until al dente.

fresh pasta, flour

If you have a food processor, mix flour and eggs in processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Pour dough out onto a floured surface and continue steps 2 and 3 for the perfect pasta dinner.

And when that's done?

Get to these recipes for making Pasta, Family Style

For more articles on How To's:

How to Roast the Perfect Brussel Sprouts

How to Roast a Chicken

How to Test the Freshness of Your Fish

Pasta, Family Style

pasta, family dinner I grew up eating family style. Whether at a restaurant or at home, forks were stabbed here, spoons scooped there and knives split the last roll. That way everyone got a taste. That way we were constantly engaged in the  dance of a meal. That's why after working at Tre, an Italian restaurant in the Lower East Side, (for 3 years) I came to find the family meal (the meal served to the staff before service) was always my favorite part of the day. I looked forward to that big bowl of pasta and was always amazed at how the chef was able to toss that much in one pan. As everyone ate we would tell stories from the night before between perfectly al dente bites of rigatoni carbonara, or spaghetti bolognese. It was the calm before the storm. A time we could get out any of our last minute frustrations, and a time to strengthen the family bonds that made that restaurant ship sail so smoothly every night.

I know what your thinking. Everyday???... Yes, I ate pasta at 4 pm almost everyday for 3 years. To many that would be a bit over the top, and maybe it is. But when your hustlin' in a busy service, it seems the only way to get through it. To me it proves that the combination of eating fresh ingredients, being active regularly (which if you've worked in a fast-paced restaurant you know you're rackin' up the pedometer points), and eating at an early hour can make a huge difference on the way food affects us. Marcus also points this out in his "Secrets of a Skinny Chef" article for Huffpost Taste.

By nature, pasta is a great choice to star in a family meal, a dinner party or any where in between. It's easy to whip up, best shared, and always a crowd pleaser.

Check out this tasty pasta show and try out your favorite . Recipes follow below.



For more stories by Ashley Beck click here.


Off The Shelf: Pasta Italiana


In this new series we explore the books, new and old, that sit on our conference bookshelf. 

A hot, beautiful bowl of beautifully plated pasta is something every one enjoys. Whether its fresh pasta that has been kneaded and perfectly shaped or dried pasta thats cooked al dente and tossed in a rich pomodoro sauce, a bowl of pasta is the universal language of love. Italian chef, Gino D'Acampo speaks this language of love in 100 ways in his cookbook "Pasta Italiana: 100 Recipes from Fettucine to Conchiglie". Here, D'Acampo not only shows the reader how to make the perfect plate of pasta from scratch in the comforts of your own home, he also showcases the importance of pasta, pairs accessible and nutritious add ins, and provides nutritional facts about his beloved pasta.Pasta, and other carbs have gotten a bad reputation over the years as numerous people thought weight gain were associated with pasta and carbs. D'Acampo wants to prove people wrong on that notion and any other notions about pasta. Accompanied by a healthy balanced diet, pasta is actually healthy for you. It's low in fat and saturated fat and provides a good source of energy with a bonus of being low on the glycemic index.

There are several different pasta recipes in this cookbook that suit everyone from the meat eaters, seafood lovers, healthy vegetarian options, and gluten-free choices, with an even bigger bonus of using easily accessible and seasonal ingredients. Rigatoni with peas, porcini mushrooms, and asparagus use fresh farmers market summer produce while pasta filled with roasted butternut squash and walnuts and thyme takes you into the Fall months.

Hidden Salt, a.k.a "The Salty Six"

It's no secret that sodium can play a villainous role in our health. We've all heard that the average American consumes far more sodium than we should, increasing our risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.  The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends fewer than 2,300 mg sodium/day for many Americans but fewer than 1,500 mg/day for people 51 and older, African-Americans, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. Earlier this year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium daily. Before even picking up the salt shaker, the average American takes in about 3,300 mg sodium/day, more than twice the recommended amount for about half of Americans and 6 out of 10 adults.

Research has determined that the lion's share of sodium isn't coming from our salt shakers. So, where are we getting the recorded high intakes?  The American Heart Association (AHA) dug into a February 2012 CDC Vital Signs report detailing the top 10 sources of sodium in our diets which account for 44% of our sodium intake. The AHA took it from there, creating a catchy way to help us all remember which foods account for most of the hidden salts. They recently debuted these foods as "The Salty Six," the top six sources of sodium in our diets culled from the CDC's list of top ten salt-packers.

There's nothing exotic about "The Salty Six."  Instead, they're the everyday foods that make up mainstays for many Americans. A few of these were obvious picks for high-sodium foods but some others are likely to come as a surprise - either because we don't think of them as high sodium or because we just haven't stopped to do the math.

The Vital Signs report reveals that the top 10 sodium -sources in our diets account for over 40% of individual sodium intake.  The most common sodium-sources in our diets are:

1. Breads and rolls

2. Cold cuts and cured meats - deli meats, bacon,

3. Pizza

4.  Poultry

5.  Soup

6. Sandwiches including cheeseburgers

7.  Cheese

8.  Pasta - mixed dishes

9.  Meat - mixed dishes

10.  Savory snacks - chips, popcorn, pretzels, and puffs

Finding out where the sodium is hidden is the first step. The next, and very critical step, is finding out how to get a handle on our intake. The article, "Strategies for Conquering 'The Salty Six'" gives you a headstart with item-by-item sodium saving tips for keeping sodium in check while keeping these foods on your plate.