Fast food the Italian way. There’s nothing wrong with a bag of dried pasta and a jar of tomato sauce for a quick and easy pasta dish for supper. But it’s probably a good thing to get a bit of fresh veg in too. Oh! And wham up the umami notes with a little dark chocolate.
There’s no doubt about it, Italians are proud of their food heritage and they have every right to be so. With its fresh flavours, vibrant colours and simplicity, Italian cuisine ranks as one of the world’s best and is one of my personal favourites.
It’s had a massive influence on British food. Where would we be without our pizza, spaghetti Bolognese, lasagne, risotto and more recently the panini? But there is far more to it than these familiar dishes.
The truth is, of course, that there’s no such thing as Italian cuisine: every region has its own specialities. The result is a wonderful diversity of styles, ingredients and flavours. Even though I’m a vegetarian, there’s plenty to keep me happy: pesto, polenta, tomato sauce, beans, cheeses, olives, foccacia – the list goes on. And I haven’t even started on the drinks and sweet stuff.
I remember when I was growing up and travel was not nearly as prevalent as it is today, my mother would wax lyrical about gelato. That wondrous ice-cream she fell in love with when an au-pair in 1950s Italy.
You can probably tell where all this is leading. When Ufuud, a company specialising in sourcing and supplying genuine top quality Italian products, asked me if I’d like to write a review, I didn’t need to think about it for long. One look at the their website and I was hooked. It’s a food lover’s dream.
Italian Fine Food
Two Italians, Cipriano Moneta and Christian Prazzoli, were somewhat surprised to find when living abroad that genuine Italian products were hard to come by. Their solution to this was to found Ufuud. It aims to supply real Italian products from their source to the customer in the shortest time possible.
Most of the products are certified organic, DOC or DOP. Even perishable products are on offer and are kept cool and well packaged to keep them fresh. Delivery is guaranteed to take between 48 and 72 hours outside of Italy. Deliveries are free for orders over €95.
I found the website simple to navigate and easy to use. There’s a range of really good quality foods, but not vast arrays of them. So it’s really easy to both browse and go to the exact item you’re looking for.
Ingredients are listed, as is information on how long the product will last and advice on how to use it. There’s also information given on the provenance of the products which I found, not only reassuring but also interesting.
Online assistance is available and indeed I conversed with a very helpful individual when I was placing my order. The parcel of Italian fine food goodies was well packaged and arrived within the specified time.
It came in an insulated box with cool bags to keep the fresh produce at a steady temperature. All of the glassware was well wrapped to avoid breakage and everything arrived in a satisfyingly good condition.
My box cost £83.40. Whilst this is not cheap, I do believe it is really good value. If you want to treat yourself to some excellent quality Italian food or create a top notch hamper for a food loving friend, then go take a look.
I was delighted to see a section on organic food and immediately picked out a bottle of olive oil and some unusual pasta. Getting my hands on a whole kilo of 24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano was too good an opportunity to miss.
Some authentic Italian tomato sauces were a must. The ones stocked were all simple and elegant, made with good ingredients and no unnecessary additives. The spicy sauce I ordered for example, had tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, chilli peppers and salt – nothing else. It was one of these jars of tomato sauce that I used in this recipe for a quick and easy pasta supper.
Chestnuts, Honey and More
I also spotted some unusual products I’d never seen before and a couple of these found their way into my basket too. I’m really looking forward to trying the farina per polenta taragna. This is a mixture of ground maize and buckwheat – not a combination I’ve come across before. I’ve also yet to try the chocolate chestnut purée and jar of dark chestnut honey; I’m rather excited about both.
I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass without getting my hands on some Italian chocolate. As it happens the chocolate bars that Ufuud stock are from Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, one of which I have tried and reviewed before.
This is surprisingly smooth and mellow and sweeter than one would expect for 100% chocolate with no added sugar. It has spicy cinnamon notes with a hint of oakiness. I had a hard time stopping CT from demolishing the bar before I got to use it. I think this might be the nicest 100% chocolate bar I’ve ever tried.
Dark Chocolate 45% with Cinnamon – sugar, cocoa mass, cinnamon
This chocolate has unmistakable individuality. It’s a granular bar with a sandy sugary texture not dissimilar to Kendal mint cake. This may sound as unappealing as a seaside sandwich, but it gives added interest and a surprising crunch in the mouth. It reminded CT of a Mexican hot chocolate disc. And when I read the packet, I discovered it was indeed designed to emulate the Aztec Xocoatl, so he wasn’t far wrong.
The flavour is good, being rich and not too sweet. The cinnamon is pleasantly understated and we managed to demolish the bar with unseemly rapidity. You can see what I thought of the cardamom version I reviewed a while back.
Quick and Easy Pasta with Veg and Chocolate
When it comes down to it, there’s nothing quite like a hearty bowl of pasta. And when you have a good quality ready made chilli tomato sauce with nothing in it except tomatoes, chillies and olive oil, it makes for the most delightful fast food. You don’t have to buy it, of course. My easy tomato sauce is a great standby for just such occasions.
This quick and easy pasta dish wasn’t quite as fast as it might otherwise have been as I wanted to add a few vegetables from our plot – namely the last courgette, some carrots and garlic. A meal never feels like a proper meal to me unless I get some veg in. And I’m not sure tomato sauce on its own counts.
This melding of good Cornish food with sun kissed Italian fare seemed, somehow, rather apt.
I sautéed the veg in a little of the olive oil, which was golden with a fruity fragrance and a fresh peppery flavour. I then added the sauce and warmed it gently. At the last minute I grated in 100% chocolate to give some additional richness and umami, although with some of the fabulous Parmesan cheese grated on top, this wasn’t strictly necessary.
Of course, Parmesan isn’t actually vegetarian, so you might want to look out for a vegetarian alternative. Or you could try my simple recipe for vegan parmesan cheese. It’s very good.
The pasta I chose was tortilli. It’s made with wholegrain Kamut, which I was particularly excited about. It was really substantial and cooked to a good al dente texture. It was very tasty with a slight nutty flavour. The crevices made it brilliant for picking up the sauce. The sauce itself was spicy warm rather than red hot, which we find just right for pasta. The chocolate worked just as I’d hoped.
CT summed it up succinctly “almost instant food that not only tastes delicious, but tastes like it’s good for you too”.
More Pasta Recipes You Might Like
- Easy romanesco pasta with lemon & garlic
- Miso marinated tofu with my pasta’s last stand
- Mushroom and chard pasta
- Quick tomato sauce with seaweed
- Sicilian pasta salad with tomatoes, olives and herbs
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make my version of quick and easy pasta, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like more Italian recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious, of course.
Quick and Easy Pasta Supper. PIN IT.
Quick and Easy Pasta – The Recipe
Quick and Easy Pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 carrots – finely cubed
- 1 courgette – finely cubed
- 1 clove garlic – finely chopped
- 200 g wholewheat pasta (I used wholegrain kamut tortilli)
- 250 g jar of good quality tomato sauce
- 5 g 100% chocolate – grated
- 20 g vegetarian Italian hard cheese
- Sauté the carrots, courgettes and garlic in the olive oil for a couple of minutes. Then put the lid on and cook over a low heat for a further 8 minutes or until soft. Stir occassionnaly to prevent the veg sticking or burning.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta as per instructions.
- Add the tomato sauce to the vegetables and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Drain the pasta and divide into two large bowls.
- Add the chocolate, stir and pour over the pasta.
- Top with some grated cheese and fresh chopped herbs if liked.
Sneaking some of our carrots, courgettes and garlic into the mix makes this eligible for Extra Veg with Michelle of Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.
With a green courgette as part of the pasta sauce, I am entering it, for the very first time, into Shaheen’s Eat Your Greens.
Well carrots and courgettes may not be on the BBC Good Food list, but the season is late this year and astonishingly it seems as though they are – or at least they were a week or so ago. I’m entering my quick and easy pasta supper to Simple and in Season. It’s hosted this month over at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter on behalf of Ren Behan.
Thanks to Ufuud for allowing me to sample some of their products. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for your support of the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.