In discovery of Alibert Pasta Fresca – Part One “Adventures in Gnocchi”
Every now and then I get approached by a company to write a product review or article in English to showcase their range and more importantly put them in touch with a new consumer base. This was the case with Alibert, La Pasta Fresca Italiana, producers of fresh Italian pasta who recently sent me a range of products to play with in my kitchen and these are the results.
Before I launch straight into the kitchen end of business I thought I’d share a few facts and figures as for many of you Alibert may not yet be a household name. The company was launched in 1967 and has spent the past forty five years homing their expertise in fresh and filled pasta eg. chilled pasta products and not your run of the mill dried pastas. Based in Preganziol, Treviso they now produce, package and ship over 35 tonnes of product per day in Italy and across Europe and the world. That’s a lot of pasta.
Alibert pride themselves on the quality of their products and above all on the fact that they are all produced using only natural ingredients so no GMO (genetically modified organisms), no additives, no preservatives and only the best ingredients to guarantee flavour with the Chef Gourmet range boasting 6 eggs to every kilo of semolina flour for a deliciously rich and yellow pasta.
So back to my kitchen, or more importantly my fridge, which is bursting with Alibert products just begging to be tried and tasted. I arrived home one day last week to find my elderly neighbour excitedly wielding a cooler box as I’d not been home when the courier called and I think she was almost more excited than me to see all the fresh pasta when I finally lifted the lid. In my box of goodies I found the following:
From the Chef Gourmet Range
Gran Raviolo al Tartufo Bianco – Large Ravioli filled with white truffle
Gran Raviolo con Spinaci e Ricotta fresco – Large Ravioli filled with spinach and fresh ricotta
Tortellini Parmigiano Reggiano e Prosciutto crudo – Tortellini filled with Parmigiano (parmesan) Reggiano and cured ham
Gnocchi di patate e uova – Potato and Egg Gnocchi
From the Orto + Range (Orto = Vegetarian)
Ravioloni alle verdure Grigliate – Small Ravioli with grilled vegetables
Ravioloni al Radicchio – Small Ravioli with Red Chicory
So the big question, where to start?
First on my “To-Try” list is the gnocchi as with a Genovese husband gnocchi with pesto is high on his list of favourite foods. We tend to avoid shop bought gnocchi as it’s never as soft and fluffy as when home-made but that said we also fall into the category of time-poor couples who don’t always have the time or energy in the evening to dedicate one hour to making fresh gnocchi and so it tends to be something we reserve for special occasions, or more frequently for special visitors who request his home-made gnocchi!
Interestingly when he spotted the Alibert gnocchi in the fridge and had given it a good feel his first feedback was very positive saying “feels quite soft and light”. The gnocchetti, thus called as smaller than the average gnocchi, does indeed feel closer to the home made variety than any other prepared product that I’ve tested and so I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes out in a taste test.
The pack gives two options for cooking; in boiling water until the gnocchi float to the surface and are ready to be combined with a sauce or directly in a fry pan with sauce, in both cases ready in less than 4 minutes.
Gnocchi di patate e uova – cooked in boiling water and served tossed in basil Pesto
Ingredients: 250g gnocchi (half the 500g pack), rock salt, 2 tbsp of home-made pesto (shop bought is also fine), 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to dilute the pesto, a few fresh basil leaves for decoration
To test the two cooking methods given by Alibert I divided my 500g pack into two portions of 250g. We ate the full 500g as part of the test which made for a pretty filling dinner for two where traditionally 500g would best be used as a starter or primo for 4 persons.
Preparation: In terms of cooking, this recipe couldn’t be simpler. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and whilst waiting mix your pesto and olive oil in a serving dish. Once boiled you can add the gnocchi and cook for 3-4 minutes. The gnocchi will float to the surface once cooked so all you need to do is scoop it out with a sieved spoon and place directly in the dish with the pesto, mix well and it’s ready to serve.
Gnocchi di patate e uova – cooked directly in a Gorgonzola and milk sauce.
Ingredients: 250g gnocchi (half the 500g pack), 100ml whole milk, 80g Gorgonzola cheese, salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: This too could not be simpler. On pack Alibert advise using 250g sauce for the full 500g of gnocchi so I simply had to adjust volumes on the basis that I was using half the pack. Take a medium large frying pan, big enough to contain the sauce and gnocchi, and place the milk and gorgonzola in it. Gently bring to the boil and then add the gnocchi. Sautee together for “1 minute” as per the pack instructions and then serve. I actually found that the gnocchi needed 2-3 minutes to achieve the same fluffiness as the previous recipe boiled in water so be prepared to check and taste as you go. The type of sauce used may influence cooking time depending on the percentage of liquid in it and my gorgonzola undoubtedly thickened my sauce and perhaps led to this need for an extra minute cooking time.
So how did the two recipes and cooking methods compare?
Both were quick and simple and taste-wise the gnocchi was equally good cooked in sauce as cooked in water. My husband, the afore-mentioned gnocchi expert, was suitably impressed which for me is a great sign of the product quality and flavour so all in all Alibert deliver on all of their promises. In terms of which cooking method you chose, it depends on how you want to eat your gnocchi. For example, pesto sauce or butter and sage don’t provide enough liquid to cook directly in the pan so you’re best using the traditional method but a gorgonzola or tomato sauce mean you can benefit from the pan method.
So at the end of my first test I’m liking these Alibert products and especially how easy they are to prepare; maximum convenience with superior taste.
To be continued………………………………..
Via F.lli Bandiera, 30 – 31022 Preganziol (TV) Tel. 0422 6301 – Fax. 0422 380277