The first quarter of 2022 was closed out with a new employee engagement activity: pasta making! Hosted by CourseHorse and instructed by Chef Robby Sandler out of New York, this delve into Italian cuisine lasted two whole hours. Highstreet CEO Nick Magliato, an avid cook, comes from an Italian family and was particularly excited to make pasta with everyone. With a food and beverage credit covered by Highstreet and extended to all participants, our virtual journey across Italy began.
First, the Dough
Despite its innumerable forms, many of which are time consuming and extremely delicate in design, pasta starts with an extremely simple dough. Eggs and flour is all you need. Working the ratios until a tacky, stretchy, but not sticky dough is formed is more art than science. Once the dough progressed from grainy, to shaggy, and eventually to a smooth, taunt ball. After kneading this ball for upwards of ten minutes to develop the gluten, the dough got set aside to rest and relax.
Second, the Sauce
Yet another simple recipe! Requiring only crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, olive oil, and a bay leaf, this marinara came together quite quickly. Chef Robby educated us on the most innocuous ingredient of the day—bay leaves. “Their flavor releases and changes the longer they’re cooked,” he told us. “That’s why we sauté it in the olive oil before adding any other ingredients.” Our sauce simmered on the stove as we moved on to making our pesto.
The traditional way of making pesto requires a mortar and pestle, but our guide to Italian food, Chef Robby, assured us that using a blender worked just as well. The only side effect is that Italian grandmothers everywhere are wagging their fingers and clucking their tongues. The trick when using the blender, is to combine all ingredients except basil initially. Once the desired texture is achieved, then basil can be added. This prevents the basil from becoming over processed. Another trick, keep your pesto in an airtight container until ready to serve—this keeps it a bright green color!
Third, the Pasta
Moving on to the most eye-catching portion of the evening—the pasta designs! Chef Robby focused on four main pasta forms but demonstrated many more. He even invited us to ask how certain types of pasta were made. The four main stars however were Cavatelli, fettuccini, bowtie (or as they’re called in Italy, butterflies), and penne. After a quick dunk in hot water and a brief stint in a sauté pan with the sauce of your choice, dinner was served. A tip when finishing your pasta in the sauté pan—if your sauce becomes too thick, add a little bit of pasta water to encourage thinning.
Highstreet is dedicated to fostering an atmosphere of comradery. One of the ways we do this is through quarterly employee engagements like the one above. Last quarter Highstreet celebrated the holiday season with a beer tasting, wine tasting, Goodie box opening, and cooking decorating class. Thank you CourseHorse and Chef Robby for an evening full of fun, friendship, and delicious food.